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Tian Ye, Director, Minth Automotive

We’ve Responded Successfully to the Challenge

Minth Automotive’s first serial production and delivery to customers from Loznica will start from the beginning of 2021. It comes as a result of MEA’s decision to choose Serbia as a valuable investment destination

Minth Automotive Europe d.o.o. (MAE) is a 100%-owned subsidiary of the Minth Group, which was established in Loznica in 2018. The implementation of the project started in April 2019, and by the 2nd half of 2020 production facilities of more than 60,000m2 have been already built. For the time being, an Alu-extrusion line and one mechanical production line have been installed and optimised successfully.

“Even though the development of the global automotive industry has been showing a stagnant situation since 2018, Minth still achieved explosive growth in expanding its business worldwide, which also gives MAE new opportunities to make a faster investment in Serbia. For example, the construction of an additional 30,000m2 of production facilities was initiated in May 2020. In this regard, a large amount of production equipment will also be procured by the end of 2020,” says Ye Tian, Director at Minth Automotive.

“Along with the proposal of new projects, MAE’s first serial production and delivery to customers will start from the beginning of 2021. From then on we expect a sharp increase in our capacities and sales volumes, which will consequently lead to more jobs and more young professionals employed at our company.”

To what extent has COVID-19 impacted on your global operations and your Serbian venture?

– As a growing body of economic researchers and analysts claim, the auto industry is one of the industrial sectors hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19. As we all know, COVID-19 has caused an economic crisis on a global scale, with a huge impact on the global economy.

On the other hand, the MINTH group is a leading global supplier in the design, manufacturing and sales of structural body parts and decorative parts for passenger vehicles.

Basically, during this pandemic crisis, Minth Automotive Europe d.o.o. faced and overcame three major challenges: first, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to assess which functions and operational activities are critical and need to continue as normal or be adapted, which are important but not critical, and which can be delayed until the crisis is over. Second, as a result of COVID-19, we had many consequential cancellations of passenger flights linked to travel bans that limited the availability of our best engineers and technicians who are indispensable for our operational and construction works. And, third, in order to reduce the chances of all our employees being infected or spreading COVID-19, we took all precautionary measures to protect our employees, such as: all employees wearing masks, good working hygiene and regular disinfection of all premises, minimising prolonged contact with individuals in offices and encouraging working from home.

Despite all these challenges and problems, MAE succeeded in constructing the three buildings of its factory, confirming once again our clear ambition to continue with our factory construction and employment plans.

Despite all challenges and problems, MAE succeeded in constructing the three buildings of its factory, confirming once again our clear commitment to this project

What were the key indicators of the Serbian economic environment that influenced your decision to invest in Serbia?

– There were many positive indicators that made us consider Serbia seriously as the country of our choice for new investment. First of all, Serbia has a very good geographical position in Europe, as well as excellent relations with many international markets, such as the EU, CEFTA and many others. Furthermore, Serbia is one of few countries with favourable preferential free trade agreements, an investor-friendly economic policy of the Government and a well-educated workforce speaking foreign languages, including Chinese.

Most importantly, Serbia has always had traditionally high-quality political relations with China, especially in the last several years under the leaderships of presidents Aleksandar Vučić and Xi Jinping, who intensified and extended cooperation between our two countries in all aspects. Finally, the presence of Chinese banks on the Serbian market, as well as many other important foreign companies that are satisfied with doing business in Serbia, confirms our decision to share success with our traditional and sincere friends.

Which auto parts will you produce in Serbia and which markets are you targetting?

– As one of the most important global footprints of Minth Group, MAE is designed as a brand new manufacturing centre for Aluminium related products, e.g. battery boxes for electric vehicles, exterior trim parts and structural parts.

Aluminium extrusion, mechanical, welding and anodizing/coating processes will be applied as MAE’s core technologies. The business target is mainly for all the European Auto OEMs and relevant Tier-1 Key Suppliers. To date, MAE has already been nominated as a supplier of VW, Skoda, BMW, Daimler, Renault, Nissan, Tesla & CATL, so our products produced in Loznica will be delivered to Germany, France, the UK, Czechia and the U.S.A.

How many jobs will be created upon the launch of your activities? How satisfied are you with the skills of the Serbian workforce?

– As a project of national importance to Serbia, and a big step in the Minth Group’s global expansion, MAE is planning to invest over €100 million in two phases, covering an area of 28 hectares in Loznica.

MAE will hire more than 300 local employees by the end of 2020, while this number will increase to 1,000 and more in 2021.

Based on our past recruitment experiences , Serbian colleagues show excellent competence. They are smart, well educated, flexible and very open minded to new challenges. As foreign investors, we believe the Serbian people can help the Minth Group to both make an outstanding achievement in the European region and to achieve an outstanding performance in the global automotive business.

How would you assess your collaboration with the Government of Serbia and the local administration?

– According to our experience, it takes time to establish a relationship with any government, local administration or other social stakeholder. Many aspects of a good relationship — trust, mutual respect, understanding — are intangible elements that develop and evolve over time, from individual and collective experiences and contacts.

From the very beginning, our company has understood the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships with the local authorities of the municipality of Loznica, as well as communities and other social actors throughout the life of our project, and not only during the initial phase, but also in all aspects of construction works and human resources.

Moreover, our company has established an extraordinary partnership and mutual support with the Serbian administration at the highest level, making the Serbian Government, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders understand that their opinions are factors that we consider as being very important in our cooperation.

We are proud to say that, over the course of time, our cooperation with the Loznica authorities has become very successful. Finally, by developing new approaches and modalities for enabling such relationships to emerge, we really help each other to mitigate risks and identify new businesses with local companies and stakeholders.

Have you already established connections with other members of the automotive sector in Serbia and the business community in general?

– A fact that’s well known to everyone in the current global business model is that the distribution of work duties has gradually become more complex and demanding. Nowadays there is no enterprise that can rely solely on its own ability to achieve market competitiveness. Therefore, despite MAE still being in the construction phase and pre-serial production stage, as of 2019 we already started to establish contacts with local suppliers and business partners in Serbia, thus building our own resource network. By using high-quality resources to achieve our business targets, we can also achieve common growth with our local partners.

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