The results show that in the first six months of this year, the economy has recovered, thanks to the implemented measures that gave results. After a standstill that marked 2020, the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina’s external trade continues to grow in 2021.
In an interview for this year’s edition of Invest in Vojvodina, Boško Vučurević, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Vojvodina, spoke about the economic environment in the Province, how and to what extent the crisis has affected its economy, which sectors in Vojvodina need the biggest investments, as well as projects that will be implemented in Vojvodina.
How would you assess the overall economic environment in the Province, given that the COVID 19-induced crisis is ongoing?
The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the global economy. We made a comparison in the results of the first six months of this and 2019, a pre-crisis year. The results show that in the first six months of this year, the economy recovered, thanks to the implemented measures that gave results.
In the first half of 2021, relative to the same period in 2020, the industrial production of AP Vojvodina recorded a 7.5% growth, driven by the growth in the manufacturing industry, as well as an increase in activity in the energy sector. The service sector, which was most affected by the pandemic during the previous year, will play the role of the dominant driving force behind the growth this year, per its share in GDP. In the second quarter of 2021, retail turnover continued to grow, so the real turnover, in the first six months increased by 12.8% year-on-year at constant prices. After the fall in April and May of the previous year and the stagnation throughout 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we can confidently say that the AP Vojvodina’s external trade has started growing again and even surpassed the results from the same period in 2019.
Could you tell us something about FDI influx in Vojvodina in the last few years and how much has this influx changed the situation in the Province’s economy?
In the past three years, foreign direct investments in the AP Vojvodina have brought several companies here and have certainly changed the economic picture of the Province. A total of 6,120 jobs were created in over 30 foreign companies as a result, while the investments in new plants, new business or in the expansion of the existing business capacities was worth around 1,321.8 million euros.
“Our key mission is to connect companies and open new markets. International expansion is crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises”
Which economic branches in Vojvodina should receive the biggest investments and which branches can be the driving force behind the Province’s economic development?
We, in the AP Vojvodina, have a clear picture of economic subjects and branches that generate development. The economic presence of renewable energy sources and the circular economy has been growing and much is expected from these sectors in terms of development. The IT industry and food industry are the two sectors that have been rapidly developing. A lot of money has been invested them and we have many foreign companies that operate in these two branches. The wastewater sector will certainly need large investments in the future. By the way, through its Circular Economy Council, the Chamber of Commerce of Vojvodina has been helping initiatives and proposals for changes in legal regulations to reach the right address.
What are the most important priorities of domestic companies in Vojvodina today and what programmes does the Chamber of Commerce of Vojvodina implement?
Our key mission is to connect companies and open new markets. International expansion is crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises. The activities of the groups and sections that operate under the Chamber’s auspices are focused on educational activities with our regional partners, especially during the pandemic. As far as the priorities of Vojvodinian companies are concerned, they relate to increasing their market share and market presence as key prerequisites for doing business.
Could you tell us about the Chamber’s cooperation with the Provincial Government, the Government of the Republic of Serbia, as well as other institutions important for the development of Vojvodina’s economy?
Our cooperation with both the provincial and state government, as well as all other institutions, is a natural segment of our operations, because only with the synergy of all institutions can we create an adequate economic environment. This is demonstrated in our joint activities, initiatives, promotion and, in the end, the results that our companies have achieved. As part of a single chamber system, we are working on creating an economic space that fosters business opportunities for our companies.
“Maintaining the good business environment in the times to come and the existing results that I mentioned earlier will significantly affect the development of the Vojvodinian economy in the future”
You have been cooperating a lot with chamber systems in Europe and the region. What plans and projects are you going to implement until the end of 2021?
Interregional cooperation is one of our focuses, hence, we have been working with our colleagues from the region and Europe to promote and open new markets for export-oriented companies. During the last year and due to the epidemiological situation, we held online conferences with partners from the region and the world and exchanged experiences on overcoming the crisis. We are looking forward to the International Agricultural Fair, which will be held in Novi Sad from 18th to 24th September, and after a year-long recess, we expect a number of regional and European delegations to come and hold business forums with us. We are also looking forward to the business community having the opportunity to see their peers face to face and discuss new business opportunities.
What measures do you consider the most important for improving the business environment in the Province, and what will you work on the most in the coming period?
Maintaining a good business environment in the times to come and the existing results that I mentioned earlier will significantly affect the development of the Vojvodinian economy in the future. As before, we are always open to the business community and together with them, we will work on promoting the Vojvodina economy, improving the business environment and opening new markets.