The idea behind creating Diplomacy&Commerce was to promote a new and dynamic approach to covering topics and providing quality content in the world of national press in the English language. In the last year, D&C has given its readership an abundance of news from politics, business and culture, reported on the opinions of relevant stakeholders both from Serbia and abroad covering all segments of life, and opened up topics that were not written or talked about enough.
We have tried to inform, educate, and entertain our readership, and to show them the potential that Serbia has in regard to cooperating with numerous countries in the world. Judging by the number of our readers, we are on a good trajectory. With its latest issue, Diplomacy&Commerce is celebrating its first anniversary in Serbia. We are very proud of the fact that, in one year and 12 issues, we have managed to interview the leaders of the Serbian political, business and diplomatic world, as well as the renowned public figures in our country. Not only that… In these past 12 issues, we have also published special supplements dedicated to bilateral, economic, cultural and overall relations between Serbia, Europe and the rest of the world. We have presented investment groups assembled in chambers of commerce, business associations and organizations, reported about important events in economy, talked to the leaders of national and international companies, promoted national IT startups, written about the main trends in marketing and advertising and much more. We have also tried to report in detail about the important global and domestic trends, to show our readership the multicultural heritage of Serbia and its vibrant cultural life, as well as to present the head chefs of Serbian restaurants, the best wines from all over the country, and interesting parts of the country, all in the shape of an attractively designed magazine. We have asked the people we have interviewed so far to give us their prognosis on whether Serbia will stagnate or progress in 2017 compared to 2016, and to tell us what changes in the business environment would be crucial for that happening. We have also asked them to tell us how much do magazines like Diplomacy&Commerce can contribute to exchange of opinions, points of view and facts about Serbia, and to providing better information about our country and its potential to interested parties.
- Do you think Serbia will stagnate or progress in 2017, relative to last year, and what changes to the business environment could play a crucial role in that?
How much do magazines like Diplomacy & Commerce contribute to the exchange of opinions, stances and facts about Serbia, as well as informing all interested parties about our country and its potential?
Professor ZORANA MIHAJLOVIĆ, PhD, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure: CONTINUE TO IMPROVING
- I am sure of one thing – this year, Serbia will continue improving its ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business List which assesses business conditions. This is unstoppable. Our plan is to make it to the top 20 countries in the world in the next two years. The land registry reform is something that we have been working hard on with the goal of reducing the time required for registration of property or an asset, and other services provided within the scope of the land registry. The activities and the communication between businesses and the state are now being carried out electronically for the most part. The traditional stamp is no longer, and we are abolishing certain business fees too. I would like to remind that electronic issuance of build permits has given us the biggest impetus in implementing changes. The time of stagnation is behind us, and it is our goal to secure the best possible conditions for businesses while continuously moving forward.
- No country can be called successful without having successful economy and successful trade with the entire world. Also, no country can be called successful if its diplomacy is not focusing on economic development. The very name of your magazine – Diplomacy & Commerce – which is celebrating its first birthday, is the best possible fusion of these two important factors as it underlines the importance and the connection between diplomacy and commerce. Information is the most valuable commodity today, and more people find out about Serbia’s potential, more success there will be for all of us.
IVICA DAČIĆ, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: HEALTHY ECONOMY
- Serbia has a big and important job to do this year. European Serbia has always been our goal which implies a healthy economy, good jobs and salaries, efficient healthcare and education system, border safety and safety of our citizens in the streets. In regard to economy and doing business, Serbia is aware that it is necessary to have an appealing business environment in order to attract new investors, to the benefit of all citizens. This also ensures a better future which is why Serbia has invested a lot of effort in creating economic and political stability by improving the quality of its laws and making public administration more efficient. The aim of this government is to have economic growth of at least 4% in 2017 which will be another proof that Serbia is becoming a successful country. If we do our best and achieve the 4% growth, this will translate into higher pensions and salaries, both in the public and in private sector. And that is of crucial importance for our country. On the other hand, small countries like Serbia and its neighbours can expand their markets through regional trade arrangements which stipulate trading in goods of preferential origin or custom-free import of goods which is yet another thing that can help with drawing foreign investors in. Despite the challenges that marked last year, and unfortunately the beginning of this one, Serbia will continue to play its role of a political anchor to regional stability while being aware of the fact that we are a stable and prosperous region that can be attractive for investors. In conclusion, Serbia still has to perform many tasks, but we are determined to continue implementing structural reforms. I know that the goals that we, the government, believe in are quite ambitious, but, as a government, we are obligated and simply have to think about how is this country going to look like in two to three years or even decades; whether it is going to be competitive compared to regional, European or global market. Of course, I have to thank our citizens for their patience and the support for the government reforms which haven’t been easy. I believe that this is a proof that our society is aware that the Serbian government cannot change our country or society singlehandedly, without the full support of our citizens. And it is because of this support that I firmly believe in Serbia’s progress.
- I have always believed in the value of exchanging ideas and opinions. All of us that run the country, or are actively participating in its political life, have to listen intently to the voice of our citizens, the people who are important for our country’s economic life, and the representatives of foreign countries because Serbia does not stand alone as a country but can only exist in interaction of regional, European and global politics and economy. Hence, I support and value this kind of exchange of opinions and visions, and I do hope that this practice will continue into the future too.
MAJA GOJKOVIĆ, Speaker of the Republic of Serbia’s National Assembly
BETTER INVESTMENT ENVIRONMENT
- In the last three years, Serbia has recorded significant results in recovery and stabilization of public finances, reduction of deficit, and curbing the public debt which are all a good starting point for further development. Following the many measures and laws devised by the government and adopted in the Serbian parliament, as well as the construction of infrastructure and development of industrial zones, we have tried to create a good investment environment. I am confident that today Serbia is the best investment destination in this part of Europe which is also confirmed by our country improving its ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business List. On one hand, our goal is for the economic growth to be at least 4% in 2017 which will be the best validation of Serbia’s success, while on the other, we want to continue reducing the deficit and public debt. I am confident that this year will be the year of development and progress for Serbia.
- First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your first successful year. Diplomacy&Commerce has managed to occupy an important position in Serbia thanks to its unique approach to important topics. Considering the political, economic, business, cultural and other topics that you have chosen to cover, you are definitely contributing to better presentation of Serbia and the opportunities for doing business in our country which is especially important considering that your targeted readership is in diplomacy and business. I would like to wish you even more success in your future!
MARKO ČADEŽ, President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce: PRESERVE THE POLITICAL AND MACROECONOMIC STABILITY
- There is no reason for this year not to be better for businesses than 2016. Last year, we have managed to surpass our growth level from 2008, and created a good basis for acceleration of healthy economic growth based on investments, bigger export and innovation. The most important thing now is to preserve both the political and macroeconomic stability, and to continue with fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. It is vital to expedite the reforms in public and state-owned companies, to finish privatization and restructuring, and by doing so, create more space for bigger support to the private sector. It is especially important for dual education to become an integral part of the regular schooling system as of autumn which will contribute to the current education system adapting to the real needs of businesses and labour market. The reformed Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the unified chamber system, which we started implementing at the beginning of this year, will provide companies and small business owners with even more useful and efficient services, and will more vigorously protect their interests.
- From the corporate point of view, magazines like Diplomacy&Commerce give important support to promotion of Serbia as a business destination, and of both investment and export potential of our companies. Such magazines also contribute to the internationalization of our companies. At the same time, diplomatic circles and representatives of the international business community can find everything about Serbia in one place in the magazine. Diplomacy&Commerce has several advantages – variety of content, modern design, and the quality guaranteed by the licence from the renowned The Economist magazine, in addition to the availability of information, both in print and online.
TANJA MIŠČEVIĆ Ph.D. Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of Serbia to EU: EU INTEGRATION PROCESS TO BE EXPEDITED
- In 2017, I expect the EU integration process to be expedited, as I expect the overall reforms in the society to do too, because these two processes are inseparable. The changes in the business environment are yet to come as we continue with the EU accession talks. We have opened eight and temporarily closed two negotiation chapters. We are going to continue preparing for opening of as many negotiation chapters this year as possible. We expect everything that we have recognized as important in the negotiation process to translate into the everyday lives of the citizens and businesses. Every investor wants to work in predictable conditions and in a safe environment. Hence, Chapters 23 and 24, that cover the rule of law, are extremely important to us. In late February, we opened Chapter 20 – Enterprise and Industrial Policy – which is of key importance for the Serbian economy and SME, which we see as the driving force behind In conclusion, I would like to say that we are given a chance to make big changes.
- You have taken on an important task of presenting Serbia and its development opportunities to diplomatic and business community. It is always good to question social and economic processes, and for business community and decision makers to exchange opinions because we can all learn from that, and see the same situation from an entirely different angle. Apart from providing information, I would like to encourage you to invest some of your energy into promoting CSR because that is yet another European value that should be practiced in Serbia
SINIŠA MALI, Mayor of Belgrade: THE IMPETUS TO DEVELOPMENT OF SERBIA
- Serbia should never allow itself to stagnate again, and I believe it won’t. I think that the instigated reforms and the expedited economic growth can only continue moving forward. The city of Belgrade’s share in the Serbian GDP stands at 40% which drives us even more to become the impetus to development of Serbia. The Belgrade Waterfront project will certainly contribute to this since it has moved the entire economy and construction industry from a standstill. Belgrade no longer has this decrepit location. Today, everywhere you turn you can see hoists and cranes and hardworking people. I think that we have created a good business environment. There has never been more active businesses in the city than now. For the first time in many years, there are less than 100,000 unemployed people in the city as we are providing many employment incentives.
- I think that it is very important to have a platform where all stakeholders can get information, exchange opinions and see what novelties are there in certain fields. Both Belgrade and Serbia have a lot of potential, and a good investment environment, and it is important for all relevant stakeholders to be objectively informed.
MILOŠ VUČEVIĆ, Mayor of Novi Sad: BIG ECONOMIC SUCCESSES
- I am confident that Serbian citizens will decide in favour of our country continuing with the reforms and economic recovery as set out by the Serbian government and PM Aleksandar Vučić. I am also confident that, by the year end, we are going to record big economic successes. The basis for all of this is political stability and continuity. Serbian government has managed to achieve fiscal balance in order to continue reforms, and stimulate economic growth. The implementation of the faster and more efficient electronic issuance of building permits, reforming the land registry, many incentives for businesses and start-ups, and construction of utility infrastructure are the foundation of our policy for further development and progress of the city of Novi Sad. Considering that we have been given the title of the European Capital of Culture 2021, and the Youth Capital of Europe 2019, we are especially going to focus on the city’s tourism potential. Our goal is for anyone having a good idea and the will to work or advance the existing business to be given an opportunity to do just that, as well as for them to plan expanding their business in Novi Sad because we offer the best conditions. As the mayor of the town that is also an important university centre where generations of young, talented and diligent people have been growing up, I think that the comprehensive reform of our education system, and especially implementation of dual education, is both our biggest challenge and our biggest chance for better future.
- When meeting up with foreign delegations, I personally saw that your magazine is a very popular read, and that they consider you a relevant source of information about our country. Thank you for your support and an opportunity that you have given to Novi Sad by reporting about it, and about its plans and successes. I wish you to continue being so professional, and to become even better together.
ŽELJKO SERTIĆ, Director of the Serbian Development Agency (SDA): Serious transitional changes
- The serious transitional changes started in Serbia in 2014, and today, we can be proud of what has been accomplished in the last two years. There are many positive results like the GDP growth, decline in unemployment, lower inflation and growing export that corroborate the expected progress in 2017. Owing to reformative legislation that has been harmonized with the European one, and many tax and other financial incentives, Serbia has managed to devise an incredibly appealing package for investors. Last year, the SDA worked together with potential investors on 94 projects. A total of 22 agreements were signed which will result in 236.8 million EUR worth of investments in Serbia and creation of 16,496 jobs in the next few years. This is a record-breaking result in the last 10 years which is how long the FDI incentives programme has been implemented in our country. On the other hand, one of the priority tasks of the Serbian economic policy is supporting and developing the SME sector which, again, was the basis for creation of the 2015-2020 Strategy for Development of SME, Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness. As a part of this Strategy, the state declared the year 2016 as ‘The Year of Entrepreneurship’. This year, we are embarking on an even bigger project – ‘The Decade of Entrepreneurship’. Numerous support initiatives for SME sector, large companies, organizations and investors will be implemented through the programmes devised by the SDA.
- Magazines like Diplomacy&Commerce contribute to objective reporting and provide quality information about important economic and business trends in the country. Apart from the general public, the magazine also speaks to professionals and potential investors while reporting on all relevant and current activities in Serbia.