Everything we achieved stems from teamwork and mutual support. Now it is important to move forward and define our priorities clearly
COVID-19 represents a global problem and as a con sequence it seriously affects the global economy. Unfortunately, the negative consequences of the pandemic in the first half of the year did not sparetrade and business relations between Italy and Serbia.
Italy was under “lockdown” in the period from March to May, during which – statistically speaking – production levels fell by 29.9% compared to the first three months of the year. Since the lockdown applied to industry too, in that period production was reduced to manufacturing of only essential goods and this affected the operations of Italian subsidiaries in Serbia,” says Patrizio Dei Tos, President of Confindustria Serbia.
“In the first days of the Coronavirus crisis in Serbia, our member companies recorded a decline in exports and productivity, some of them up to 30 per cent, but once the issues of mobility, transport, logistics and import-export procedures between the two countries were regulated, companies returned to a steady business flow.”
In the meantime, which sectors had been able to reorganise under the new circumstances and which of them will be most seriously affected?
– In my opinion it is important to emphasise that, soon after the declaration of the epidemic and the introduction of a state of emergency in Serbia, Confindustria Serbia’s member companies reacted quickly and readily to the new situation and reorganised their operations by implementing all safety rules to protect the health of their employees and secure a safe working environment, preventing the further spread of the virus.
Here in Serbia we’ve had exceptional support from, and maximum cooperation with, the Embassy of Italy in Belgrade, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Serbia, the Serbian Association of Employers and the Foreign Investors Council. We’ve worked as a team
At the same time, a positive impulse arrived from the Government of the Republic of Serbia, which reacted in a timely and adequate manner by adopting economic measures, with the aim of reducing the negative economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. These measures had a positive impact on the operations of companies under these circumstances, helping them to secure both production and the employment rate.
How supportive were other branches of Confindustria to your work and in which aspects was their expertise most needed?
– Synergy and coordination with the Italian headquarters of Confindustria were of great importance to us in terms of facing the upcoming crisis in Serbia. Italy was hit by the Coronavirus crisis before Serbia, and that “Italian experience” was invaluable for us – we used their models to build our strategies, to develop proposals in terms of protocols and recommendations for safe and healthy work space and management of the relations with employees, but also to propose economic, fiscal and financial measures to the institutions of the Republic of Serbia, many of which – I am pleased to add – were included in the set of measures adopted by the Government of Serbia to help the economy.
I’d also like to add that thanks to the efforts of Confindustria Serbia, but also to the joint action with the Italian – Serbian Chamber of Commerce, there had been appeals addressed to the head of the Italian government, aimed at drawing attention to the difficult situation experienced by CEOs operating in both countries, due to the strict limits imposed on movement of people. With the simultaneous commitment of the President of Confindustria in Italy, we managed to fight for a significant change in the rules regarding transfers to Italy from Serbia, so that now travelling between the two countries for business has become possible again.