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Čadež: We Invite Italian Businessmen To Invest In Serbia

May 23, 2024

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Green transition, information and communication technologies, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology, in addition to traditional sectors of cooperation, will be the focus of the Business Forum of Serbian and Italian businessmen, which will be held tomorrow in Trieste, announced the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, Marko Čadež, in an interview with the Italian news agency "Nova". 

Economic relations between Italy and Serbia have been traditionally successful and new chapters for further cooperation are opening in sectors that are yet to be explored. The business forum of Serbian and Italian businessmen, the second in a row, will gather more than 200 companies, with the participation of high political officials, which is very significant because many of our projects, such as those on infrastructure, green transition, sustainability, are part of the Government's state plan and are financed from public sources, pointed out the president of the CCIS. 

"1,300 Italian companies are working in Serbia that employ about 30,000 people, almost like a 'small town'." Italy is one of our major trading partners, the trade exchange of goods and services reached around 5 billion euros, and what is specific about Italy is that 60 percent of Italian companies in Serbia are small and medium-sized enterprises," clarifies Čadež.

The president of CCIS states that Italian companies were forerunners in many sectors, such as Fiat in the automotive industry and the joint venture of Fintel and MK Group, which built the first wind farm in Serbia.
He pointed out that Serbia is one of the countries with the highest economic growth on the continent in the last five years, and the driving force is the most innovative sector.
"The ICT sector is continuously growing by about 40 percent per year, and the growth rate is still increasing.
 In the field of new technologies, Serbia is today recognized as one of the most competitive centers.
 We have 6.5 million inhabitants, and the value of software exports is expected to reach around 5 billion euros this year, while it is estimated that this number will reach 10 billion by 2027. Italian companies recognize this competitive advantage and are coming to Serbia," Čadež emphasized.

Among the traditional sectors, the most important is infrastructure, and as he points out, the ``ace up a sleeve'' is Expo 2027, which will be held in Belgrade.
Belgrade will be the “center of the world” in 2027 and huge development is expected in the field of real estate and infrastructure. This is a real opportunity for Italian companies.

"Trieste is very important as a maritime hub and center of trade between Western Europe, Italy, and our southeastern part of Europe. The connections exist, they just need to be completely modernized, he added.

The President of the CCIS reminded us that Serbia has a competitive advantage thanks to free trade agreements, not only with the EU but with Turkey, China and all former Soviet republics, which enable direct duty-free access to markets with 2.8 billion consumers.

"The Western Balkans is the region in Europe that will have the greatest growth in the next five to seven years, counting the starting point where we are now", notes the president of  CCIS and adds that there are also significant capacities in the hydropower sector and the field of solar energy.

The economic connection between Serbia and Italy is part of a wider geographical vision, the region of the Western Balkans and Europe. Economic perspectives and possible courses of action to strengthen the Italian presence in the region are exactly what the strategic plan for the Adriatic-Balkan region of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, created in February 2023 in cooperation with the institutions' ICE, SACE, SIMEST, and diplomatic missions, foresees. In the period from 2023 to the beginning of 2024, offices of SACE, SIMEST, and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) were opened in Belgrade.

Čadež positively assessed the Italian government's decision to open agencies and regional offices, as well as to allocate funds for credit support to Italian companies that want to do business in the Western Balkans market, especially in Serbia. As he pointed out, the inclusion of the Western Balkans in the EU even before full membership is a new growth plan that is already being implemented. "We are aware that enlargement is a political process that is still in progress, but our competitiveness as a European economy cannot wait if we want to play a role among the big players," indicates Čadež.

He called on Italian companies and entrepreneurs to invest now and be part of the success because the Western Balkans region, and especially Serbia, which is the largest country, will experience expansion in the next seven years from an economic point of view, and judging by the numbers, it is already on the rise.

"It is obvious that after entering the single market, and eventually with EU membership, things will change exponentially in all sectors," concludes Čadež.

Article Agenzia Nova 

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