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Oliver Lepori, Executive Director of the Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia

Cooperation Takes Centre Stage

We aim to strengthen and solidify our partnerships with key players in the sustainability sector in Serbia, ranging from institutions to non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the academic community. We together aspire to contribute to local and global efforts aimed at protecting the environment

In 2024, the Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia (JBAS) is continuing to focus on enhancing collaboration with relevant sectors of the economy and the academic field, governmental institutions and international partners, in an effort to foster a sustainable business environment. This perspective is shared by JBAS Executive Director Oliver Lepori. The previous year proved to be a remarkably successful one for JBAS, and this interview provided an opportunity to review achievements and outline the association’s plans for the period ahead.

One of your ongoing activities is related to energy sector transition. What can JBAS offer its members in this regard, and with which stakeholders have you collaborated the most when it comes to promoting the potential of Japanese companies in this field?

— In light of global challenges related to climate change and sustainability, JBAS is dedicated to supporting the implementation of the green agenda. Our aim is to contribute, hand in hand with our members and partners, to preserving the environment and creating a sustainable future to the greatest extent possible.

Japanese technology, knowhow and innovations provide some of the most advanced solutions to support Serbia in its just energy transition. This support encourages investments and innovative business models that reduce dependency on imports, diversify the energy production mix and facilitate access to clean and affordable energy.

The assistance that we provide, in collaboration with our members, is equally available to both the public and private sectors. In line with the spirit of Japanese business philosophy, we exert special efforts to focus on vulnerable sections of the population and underdeveloped municipalities.

A new cycle of the project “Innovative and Just Green Transition as a Tool for Ensuring Systemic Energy Security and Reducing Energy Poverty” was implemented in 2023, led by UNDP Serbia and conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Mining and Energy, and with support from the Government of Japan. Within this project, a total of 28 participants from across Serbia demonstrated their innovative decarbonisation solutions, a just green transition for the economy, and support for energy-vulnerable households. Many of the projects presented will make use of Japanese technology and knowhow.

Alongside such initiatives, we will also continue establishing partnerships with key sustainability stakeholders – including government institutions, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and academic institutions – in order to contribute to global environmental protection efforts and create a sustainable business paradigm in Serbia.

The first Serbian-Japanese Business Club was established recently. What makes this a significant development, and how will JBAS collaborate with the club?

— We are delighted that, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Japan, led by Ambassador Aleksandra Kovač, bilateral relations between Japan and Serbia will be further strengthened through the establishment of another institution: the Serbian-Japanese Business Club. This club has already brought together 22 Japanese companies and individuals, including high representatives of some renowned investors in the Serbian economy, such as Japan Tobacco International, Nidec, Yazaki, Toyo Tires and others. This serves as further confirmation of the transformation of relations between Serbia and Japan, reflected in a significant increase in Japanese investments in Serbia and the bilateral trade exchange.

Japanese technology, knowhow and innovations offer some of the most advanced solutions to support the process of just energy transition in Serbia

We believe that the business club will provide an immeasurable contribution to joint efforts to promote all the qualities of Serbia as an investment destination. This includes aspects such as the country’s highly educated workforce, export opportunities to the European Union, geographical location and subsidies, but also Serbia’s general economic conditions and incentives for foreign investors. This will become particularly evident in the near future, given that Expo 2025 will take place in Osaka, followed by Expo Belgrade 2027.

You had an opportunity to give an interview to the Japan Times in the middle of last year. How important are such media engagements when it comes informing the Japanese business community about Serbia’s investment potential and JBAS’s ability to support potential investors?

Disseminating information of the kind you mention in prestigious media outlets holds great significance when it comes to informing the Japanese business community about Serbia’s investment potential. This type of communication contributes to one of our main objectives: building trust and establishing sustainable business relationships between Serbia and the Japanese business community.

Given that Serbia is currently building its image in Japan as an investment destination, any form of support and encouragement to potential investors is extremely important.

What are JBAS’s plans for the near future?

— We have an exciting year ahead of us. Our ambitious plans for the coming period are focused on further enhancing the Japanese-Serbian business community’s work and providing support to our members. Our focus will continue to be on strengthening collaboration with relevant sectors of the economy and the academic field, governmental institutions and international partners, in order to create a sustainable business environment.

One significant task ahead of us is providing active support to the Government of Serbia and domestic companies in preparing for the upcoming Expo 2025 in Osaka, as well as promoting the Expo Belgrade 2027 event.

Through these and numerous other initiatives, through the scope of our work, JBAS will continue to contribute to improving the business climate and economic growth in our country.

WELCOME

We are delighted that bilateral relations between Japan and Serbia will be further strengthened through the establishment of another institution: the Serbian- Japanese Business Club

SUPPORT

One significant task ahead of us is providing active support to the Government of Serbia and domestic companies in preparing for the upcoming Expo 2025 in Osaka

PUBLICITY

Given that Serbia is currently building its image in Japan as an investment destination, any form of support and encouragement to potential investors is extremely important