Sweden’s annual exports to Serbia, although still small, are growing steadily, while Serbia’s economic growth, especially in the mining sector and construction, is attracting the interest of Swedish companies. Among the most promising business sectors for boosting Swedish exposure to Serbia are equipment for the mining industry, the energy sector and solutions that can facilitate cost efficiency and increase quality in the health sector.
We spoke with H.E. Jan Lundin, Ambassador of Sweden to Serbia, about further prospects for cooperation.
In your opinion, what has the entry of Ikea brought to Serbia when it comes to the expansion of economic cooperation between our two countries?
– The establishment of IKEA in Serbia indeed signifies a new, more intense phase of economic relations between our two countries. Even more, however, it symbolises Serbia’s integration into global trade flows, as IKEA is today a global company, albeit one with a strong Swedish identity.
I believe that during the next few years smaller Swedish companies that are complementary to IKEA might choose to establish themselves in the vicinity of its outlet to the south of Belgrade and that IKEA will try to facilitate this. Moreover, IKEA is also interested in expanding its cooperation with the Serbian furniture industry.
We see considerable interest in investing in manufacturing, where Serbia is quite competitive for greenfield investments today, in terms of production costs
The level of the trade exchange in goods between Nordic countries and Serbia is relatively low but is nevertheless advancing. Where do the potentials and challenges lie?
– I see great opportunities in the mining sector, where Swedish companies like Sandvik, Atlas Copco and Volvo are world leaders in delivering suitable equipment.
We also see considerable interest in investing in manufacturing, where Serbia is quite competitive for greenfield investments today, in terms of production costs. Infrastructure investment is likely to continue to expand, and here again, there could be opportunities for Swedish engineering solutions in areas like, for example, road safety.
As to challenges, Serbia must keep working on the rule of law and transparency in connection with, for example, public procurement.
To what extent have gatherings of this kind succeeded in yielding tangible business deals and what are your expectations of this investment forum?
– I believe gatherings such as these are a good way for investors and exporters to get a quick update on where Serbia stands in terms of business opportunities, and to adapt their planning accordingly.