The path from the cat to the tiger leads through the Japanese companies in Serbia. This is a message from the second Kaizen™ congress in Belgrade, where a panel was held on the topic of Japanese investment in Serbia and on an even more intriguing question: is Serbia becoming a new economic tiger?
Panellists Goran Pekez of JTI, Dirk Bantel of Panasonic, Naoki Tsukada of Mitsubishi, Shigao Hashimoto of the Itochu Corporation and Radoš Gazdić of the Development Agency of Serbia presented the number and position of Japanese companies in Serbia, 32 of them today with 3,000 staff. Everyone agreed that the geographical position, political and economic stability and the educated and hardworking population were crucial for them to choose Serbia to invest in. Japanese panellists explained that their businesses carefully analyse markets and do not make decisions overnight, but when a domicile country once wins their trust, they come to stay. Although we may think that our worker cannot measure to a Japanese one, the participants of this Congress, the Japanese, expressed great satisfaction with the enthusiasm, dedication, curiosity and competence of our workers.
By signing a memorandum of cooperation, the Development Agency of Serbia and JBAS gave themselves the task of continuing to bring Japanese business delegations to Serbia to learn about investment opportunities. Our state is here to educate the workforce in agreement with the companies, to provide qualification and retraining services, and to design new programmes for attracting workers because it seems that the only possible problem may be a shortage of skilled labour.
The conclusion is that with a predictable economic and tax policy and provision of sufficiently motivated and appropriately educated workers, Serbia may not become an economic lion overnight, but Japanese managers are noticing very optimistically that our “Serbian kitten” is already waking up and stretching.
The organizers of the second Kaizen™ Congress are the Kaizen™ Institute and the Japan Business Alliance in Serbia.