This year was marked by an increase in the number of chamber members, expansion of the network of institutional partners in Switzerland and the continuation of successful cooperation with existing institutional partners
After a break of two years, the Swiss- Serbian Chamber of Commerce returned to organising physical gatherings of members and reduced the number of “online” events, which was welcomed by many members. “The possibility of meeting and talking directly, live, with representatives of the Swiss-Serbian business community, as well as with members of the wider business community, has been missed the most by company representatives since the outbreak of the pandemic,” says Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ana Grujović.
SSCC members were invited in March to participate in a business networking event that was organised in cooperation with other bilateral chambers during the Kopaonik Business Forum and sponsored by two SSCC member companies: Roche and Tomic Sinđelić Groza – TSG law firm.
Additionally, Grujović notes, some online events are still being held, such as the webinar “Measures of active employment policy and financial support for companies”, organised in cooperation with the National Employment Service of the Republic of Serbia and bilateral chambers. “It is also important to mention the webinar on the ICT sector, which was organised in cooperation with Switzerland Global Enterprise and colleagues from the Bulgarian-Swiss and Romanian-Swiss chambers. A novelty linked to this event is that it also provided participants with the possibility of virtual B2B meetings,” explains Grujović.
Similarly, a novelty of the work done during the course of this year includes the expansion of the number of SSCC members, expansion of the network of institutional partners in Switzerland and the continuation of successful cooperation with existing institutional partners.
Judging by your website, one would say that the time has come for socialising, networking and meeting. Which of these activities have your members been missing the most?
– Expanding the network of business contacts has always been exceptionally valued by SSCC members. Our events provide companies with the opportunity not only to establish direct contact with representatives of Swiss companies operating in Serbia, but also to present their own business activities and launch new business initiatives. For example, a gathering of members held in March was hosted by company Merkle.
Moreover, SSCC events are often attended by representatives of state organisations, both Swiss and Serbian. We had the honour of having the SSCC networking cocktail party held in May at La Cucina restaurant being attended by H.E. Ambassador Urs Schmid. That event also provided an opportunity to meet new chamber members. This year we had the satisfaction of seeing the SSCC membership enriched with the addition of successful companies like Stadler Rails, Kuhne Nagel, Prodyna, Holycode and numerous others. Finally, events organised in cooperation with other bilateral chambers in Serbia, such as the “Speed Business Meeting” held in April, enabled SSCC members to meet and get acquainted with member companies of the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Hellenic Business Association in Serbia.
You recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. What does this document mean for advancing Serbian-Swiss economic relations?
– It was last year that the SSCC brought the decision to launch the process of expanding its network of institutional partners in Switzerland and established initial contact with the Chamber of Commerce of Geneva. Following a year of independent work, the SSCC managed to secure an accord with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, which brings together more than 2,500 companies, to approach the organising of joint events, as well as signing a memorandum of cooperation. We are extremely proud that this SSCC initiative was implemented exclusively with the use of the chamber’s own resources, which resulted in the staging of the event “Market Focus Serbia”, with the aim of presenting the economic potential of the Serbian market to potential Swiss investors from the canton of Geneva.
We are extremely proud that the SSCC initiative to establish cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce of Geneva was implemented exclusively with the use of the chamber’s own resources, and with the aim of presenting the economic potential of the Serbian market to potential Swiss investors from the canton of Geneva
The event began with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with which the signatories, the SSCC and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, committed themselves to strengthening cooperation, regularly exchanging information and providing support to entrepreneurs interested in contributing to the further strengthening of Swiss-Serbian business relations. The Geneva Chamber of Commerce was established as far back as 1865 and represents one of Switzerland’s oldest cantonal chambers. It is also one of the most influential business organisations of the canton of Geneva, with its member companies creating approximately 133,000 jobs.
How much have investors from the canton of Geneva been present on the Serbian market to date? What do you expect from the “Market Focus Serbia” seminar?
– Among the most important investors from the canton of Geneva, it is certainly necessary to mention company Nestle, which marked the completion of the first phase of construction of its new factory in Surčin in February, which will produce plant-based food. A total of 67 million Swiss francs has been invested in the construction of this second Nestle factory in Serbia, which will sprawl over an area of around 18,000 square metres and is yet more proof of the commitment to the local market of this investor from the canton of Geneva. Alongside this, I would also like to mention company Petite Geneve Petrovic, the official representative of Rolex watches in Serbia. The Market Focus Serbia seminar marked the first step in SSCC-Geneva Chamber of Commerce cooperation. The next step was the visit of CCIG general director Vincent Subilia, who accepted the SSCC’s invitation to visit Belgrade for the first time. This occasion provided him with the opportunity to present CCIG activities to SSCC member companies, but also to meet representatives of Swiss-Serbian state institutions and to visit the shop of the official representative of Rolex watches, Petite Geneve Petrovic.
How attractive to Swiss investors has Serbia’s approach to encouraging foreign investments to date proved to be; and what, in the opinion of your members or future investors, should be innovated?
– In our opinion, establishing contacts with as many business organisations in Switzerland as possible is important to the further development of Swiss-Serbian business cooperation. The SSCC took an important step forward in this regard this year by adding, based on its own initiative, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce to its network of institutional contacts in Switzerland.
Legal certainty and transparency in operations are two crucial points for attracting and retaining foreign investors, Swiss included
Our events provide companies with the opportunity to establish direct contacts with representatives of Swiss companies operating in Serbia and to launch new business initiatives
In our opinion, establishing contacts with as many business organisations in Switzerland as possible is important to the further development of Swiss-Serbian business cooperation