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Fanina Kovačević-Popaz, Executive Officer Of The Hellenic Business Association Of Serbia

More Stimulating Investment Environment Created

The Government of Serbia has taken significant steps towards the creating of a stimulating investment environment over recent years, with the aim of incentivising economic growth. These moves, as well as measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises, prompt optimism among the members of the Hellenic Business Association

Although the business environment is still under the influence of the pandemic to a great extent, Serbia’s stable macroeconomic position, coupled with the Government’s orientation towards innovation and energy transition are influencing an improvement of the business environment, which benefits Greek companies. For its part, the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia also contributes strongly to its members being well informed, and to better networking within the association and with other companies that operate in Serbia.

What were the most valuable pieces of information that your members were able to receive from the HBA in order to maintain smooth operations during the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic?

We’ve been providing to our members, since the outbreak of the pandemic, all relevant information related to its impact on companies’ regular operations in Serbia. We simultaneously inform them about the rules for crossing borders between Serbia and Greece, given that we receive a lot of inquiries regarding this issue. Together with our colleagues from other bilateral chambers, we organised a working meeting with the Ministry of Finance and the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Serbia on the topic of macroeconomic movements in the economy of the Republic of Serbia under the context of COVID-19. We also launched a special Member to Member edition that provides business support to member companies of five bilateral chambers during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst also promoting their products and services to the wider business community in the country. We intensified exchanges of contacts and the marketing promotion of members within the association itself, and we additionally had an opportunity – after a long period – to organise informal gatherings and some of our traditional activities that received a great response from members.

How satisfied were your members with the support provided to the business sector by the Government of Serbia?

The risks and uncertainties associated with the years of the pandemic have had a major impact on business activities. At the same time, the Government’s timely reaction and implementation of support programmes has contributed significantly to countering those negative consequences. Tax policy measures and direct assistance to the private sector, as well as measures aimed at preserving liquidity, have had a positive impact on maintaining the stability of the private sector and preserving jobs over the past two years. It is extremely important that these programmes included small and medium-sized enterprises, which were most in need of state support to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. A large percentage of our membership comprises SMEs that have utilised this type of assistance and consider it very useful.

What were the main topics discussed in the exchange of views with the Government of Serbia and what were your initiatives regarding the improvement of the overall business climate?

The Government of Serbia has taken important steps to create an stimulating investment environment over recent years, with the aim of incentivising economic growth and creating new jobs. With the introduction of electronic invoicing, the progresshas been made in the area of e-business in Serbia, while at the same time significant strides have been made in the further reform of public administration, which ultimate goal is to provide services that meet the needs of the economy in an efficient way.

Inter-chamber cooperation has proved its worth as a successful model for connecting and promoting member companies over recent years, and we will continue to apply this type of synergy in our activities

A very important topic during previous years has been the Government’s engagement in the field of energy transition, via the amending of the legislative framework that represents the basis for the Green Agenda, and which will simultaneously – through concrete steps – impact positively on investments in the field of green transformation. There is certainly still room for the further improvement of the business environment in the areas of the judiciary, labour relations, simplifying import procedures, reducing administrative procedures in business etc., all of which would allow Greek and other companies to more effectively develop business activities.

How did you maintain cooperation with other bilateral business associations?

Our Association cooperates actively with other bilateral chambers and business associations in the country, both through joint initiatives and joint events. During September last year, 11 bilateral chambers organised the International Networking Cocktail Reception, as an event that aimed at strengthening the Serbian economy by connecting domestic and foreign companies. Likewise, together with our colleagues from the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Croatian Business Club and the British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, we organised a Speed Business Meeting last December, an event that promotes networking and exchanging business contacts. Inter-chamber cooperation has proved its worth as a successful model for connecting and promoting member companies over recent years, and we will continue to apply this type of synergy in our activities.

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