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Booming Opportunities For Cooperation

The field of new technologies, which is booming in Serbia, as well as infrastructure (especially tourism) and transport, are undoubtedly areas where synergies can be found between Swiss businesses and Serbia, but there are also ample opportunities in other sectors

The Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Vincent Subilia, director general of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG), to Belgrade. We took the opportunity to interview him and find out more about previous achievements and future collaboration between the two chambers, which brings new possibilities for economic cooperation between the two countries.

As CCIG Director General Subilia explains, “cooperation between CCIG and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce is not new. We co-organised events that were held in Geneva in 2015 and 2022.

“On the occasion of the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, we were particularly happy to welcome to Geneva SSCC President Majo Mićović and Executive Director Ana Grujović. This was followed by our visit to Belgrade in July 2022, during which we were able to present ourselves to SSCC members and meet with the Serbian prime minister and Swiss companies established in Serbia.”

The CCIG will host the 13th World Chambers Congress in June 2023 and we believe this will be an incredible opportunity to highlight the SSCC and Serbia, as we expect over 1,000 participants from 100 countries to attend

Citing the numerous areas of cooperation between the two countries, Subilia notes: “the field of new technologies, which is booming in the Republic of Serbia, as well as infrastructure (especially tourism) and transport are without doubt areas where synergies between Swiss businesses and Serbia can be found. As our recent visit to the country has shown, there are already leading Swiss economic players in Serbia, such as Nestlé and Roche. We look forward to implementing the MoU signed last June with the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Several CCIG members that have recently expressed their interest in developing activities in Serbia are already in contact with the SSCC.”

The CCIG will also host the 13th World Chambers Congress in June 2023 and Subilia believes that this will provide an incredible opportunity to highlight the SSCC and Serbia, with over 1,000 participants from 100 countries set to attend.

When it comes to prospects for the nearshoring and offshoring of Swiss investments in Serbia, Subilia notes that several sectors seem particularly promising. “We think of the agri-food industry; digital transformation and new technologies (ICT is a mainstay of Serbia’s economy); infrastructure, in particular the construction of tourism infrastructure; energy transition and the improvement of energy efficiency (modernisation of thermal power plants, use of renewable energy sources),” concludes our interlocutor.

Turning to the ways cooperation between the CCIG and the SSCC will proceed, Subilia explains: “the MoU that was signed last month aims to promote exchanges in trade and services, business partnerships and investments between Geneva and Serbia, alongside exchanges of information related to recent developments in trade, the economy and investments. There will also be ample space to discuss specific projects that meet the interest of members of both chambers.

“With some 2,400 member companies, the CCIG – which can call on its 157- year history – offers a cross-section of the economic sectors at play in Switzerland. We are therefore confident that there will be much scope for cooperation with the SSCC,” explains Subilia.

Serbia benefits from free trade agreements with the EU, EFTA, the UK, Central European countries and Turkey, and from the Generalized System of Preferences with the U.S. and Japan, while it has moderate operating costs including in terms of electricity – a key factor nowadays

Furthermore, notes our interlocutor, as an international city that’s located geographically at the centre of Europe, Geneva is the perfect bridgehead to develop business in the heart of Europe.

To conclude, we wanted to know which of the characteristics of the Serbian business environment are particularly attractive to Swiss companies and where they see possibilities for further improvement.

“There are many aspects of Serbia that investors will find attractive, aside from its geostrategic position (at the crossroads of Europe and the East, less than a two-hour flight from Geneva) that offers access to international markets,” says our interlocutor.

“A highly-qualified and motivated workforce is one of them. But Serbia also benefits from free trade agreements with the EU, EFTA, the UK, Central European countries and Turkey, and from the Generalized System of Preferences with the U.S. and Japan. It has moderate operating costs (including in terms of electricity – a key factor nowadays) and a competitive tax policy for foreign investors, who can benefit from a loan from the Swiss State secretariat for Economic Affairs Start-Up Fund (a programme providing loans to investors resident in Switzerland for start-up business projects in emerging economies),” concludes Subilia.

PROSPECTS

With some 2,400 member companies, the CCIG offers a cross-section of the economic sectors at play in Switzerland. We are looking forward to cooperating with the SSCC

OPPORTUNITIES

There are many aspects of Serbia that investors will find attractive, aside from its geostrategic position, and they are appreciated by Swiss investors

BRIDGEHEAD

As an international city that’s located geographically at the centre of Europe, Geneva is the perfect bridgehead to develop business in the heart of Europe