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Danijela Fišakov, President of the Slovenian Business Club

We Will Outdo Ourselves

The Slovenian Business Club will become an even stronger and more influential business player in Serbia, Slovenia and around the region, with a strong network of contacts and partnerships

An entire generation of businesspeople has grown up since the founding of the Slovenian Business Club two decades ago. “Our membership today includes companies whose directors are the children of those directors who were at the peak of their power at the time of the SBC’s inception. That’s why this jubilee represents an impressive achievement,” says Slovenian Business Club President Danijela Fišakov in this interview.

Numerous parameters have contributed to the SBC’s durability and to its vitality, as well as the fact that it is constantly current. “Among these parameters, I would highlight dedication and maintaining operational continuity, as well as the constant engagement and support of members. In order to retain their support throughout this entire time, and to ensure their participation in the association’s work, the SBC set itself the imperative of constantly delivering new values to its members,” explains Fišakov.

Speaking in another interview 10 years ago, you criticised the lack of a financial culture in Serbia. What has changed for the better over these 10 years and what still concerns you?

— Improving the business climate in Serbia depends, firstly and undoubtedly, on the state’s attitude towards this issue and its focus on creating a favourable environment for doing business. Serbia has done a lot over the last ten years to position itself as one of the most important investment destinations in Central and Eastern Europe. The advantages of doing business in Serbia are reflected in competitive tax rates that are among the lowest in Europe, a restructured and stable financial system, simple procedures to establish and register a company, simple procedures for conducting foreign trade operations and implementing investments, free access to a market numbering billions of consumers, a high-quality business environment with a system of incentive measures that are provided by the state, and an educated workforce, particularly in the fields of IT, engineering and languages. The development of innovative technologies also attracts foreign investors and increases Serbia’s attractiveness as a business destination. Coupled with other factors, these advantages make Serbia an attractive destination for foreign investments in certain industries.

It is nonetheless essential to continue strengthening the rule of law constantly and more intensively, i.e. advancing the independence of the judicial system, while intensifying the fight against corruption and organised crime, which would ensure personal and business legal security.

How interesting to your members are the projects being encouraged by the EU in Serbia under the scope of green transition and the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans?

— The development of industry has brought humankind, apart from progress, the essential need to protect the environment. The implementation of the Green Deal and adaptation to new business circumstances represent major challenges for all economies around the world, including Serbia’s. As with all challenges, these ones are overcome more easily and successfully by working together. Given that Slovenia is an EU member state and that Serbia is on the right track to attaining EU standards, endless opportunities for cooperation exist when it comes to developing policies and strategies, and to implementing regulations on environmental protection and sustainable development.

The projects being encouraged by the EU in Serbia under the scope of green transition are attractive primarily to companies that operate in the fields of producing and using sustainable materials, green energy production and other areas that contribute to preserving the environment. These companies find it very useful to exchange experiences and knowhow, and to work on the development of new products and services together with other companies outside of Serbia. Our members operating in the research and development field have the capacity to develop new technologies and innovations that will contribute to preserving the environment and implementing the Green Deal.

Expo 2027 is viewed in Serbia as an opportunity for both the economy and tourism. Considering Slovenia’s experience in developing tourism and the hotel industry, what would you advise our businesspeople?

— Despite Slovenia having not yet organised events of this scale, the Slovenian experience of developing tourism and the hotel industry could prove very valuable for Serbia in the context of preparations for Expo 2027. Slovenians are known for their sustainable approach to tourism, for promoting green tourism, local gastronomy and wine, for developing specific forms of tourism and for the constant educating of tourism personnel. Slovenian experiences and good practices are highly applicable in Serbia. Investing in environmentally friendly hotels, reducing waste materials and promoting local products will attract environmentally conscious tourists to Serbia. Serbian tourism workers can take advantage of Serbia’s authentic cuisine and develop an offer that includes local gastronomic specialities and wine tours. There is huge potential to develop historical, spa, health and adventure tourism.

The Slovenian experience of developing tourism and the hotel industry could prove very valuable for Serbia in the context of preparations for Expo 2027

In order for Serbia to realise its full potential, it is essential to continue investing in transport infrastructure. Modernisation of the road and rail network eases access for tourists, but also other participants in the economy. We also have very positive experiences with the use of digital tools to promote tourism. Tourists like to know where they are going and what they can expect in advance, and they are helped and attracted a lot in this sense by high-quality websites, mobile apps, social media presentations and online booking systems. Last, but by no means least, it is necessary to point out the extremely positive experiences and good practices resulting from cooperation between the private and state sectors, which is key to the development of tourism.

What are the main goals and expected impacts of the newly established Council of European Business Associations and Chambers in Serbia; and how, in this light, do you envisage the improvement of the business climate in Serbia?

— European business associations and bilateral chambers representing the interests of companies operating with European capital in Serbia joined forced with the establishing of the Council of European Business Associations and Chambers in Serbia. The memorandum of association has been signed, thus marking the start of a new era of cooperation and synergy within the European business sector in Serbia. In its future work, this newly established body will provide a more detailed definition of common interests and serve as a platform for all future initiatives and activities.

The main goal of the CEBAC – Council of European Business Associations and Chambers is to further develop and support the improvement of the legal, institutional and competitive business framework for the successful performance of all companies operating in Serbia, both those with international capital only and those that also have local capital.

COUNCIL

The CEBAC will work with dedication to advocate for and encourage the implementation of strategies that will strengthen cooperation between Serbia and other European markets

OBSTACLES

It is essential to reduce administrative obstacles that hamper operations in Serbia, such as the continued lengthy procedures for issuing various permits and many unclear laws and regulations

OPPORTUNITY

Our member companies see green transition projects as an opportunity for investment and economic growth through the implementation of new technologies