H.E. ALONA FISHER-KAMM, Israeli Ambassador to Serbia: STABLE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

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In the past two years, Diplomacy&Commerce magazine has given to its readers abundance of news from politics, business and culture, has 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. With its latest issue, Diplomacy&Commerce is celebrating its second anniversary in Serbia. We are very proud of the fact that, in two years and 24 issues, we have managed to interview the leaders of the Serbian political, business and diplomatic community, as well as the renowned regional and the global public figures. In these past 24 issues, we have also published special supplements dedicated to overall relations between Serbia and European and world countries.

We have asked Serbian officials – Serbian PM, government ministers, ambassadors and representatives of business associations in Serbia – to give us their opinions about the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to become an EU member, and about the investment climate in the West Balkan region.

1. What do you think are essentially the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to be ready for EU membership by 2025?

  1. Do Serbia and the Western Balkans have enough capacity to attract large multi-nation companies to their markets?

1 EU accession path is a good opportunity and tool for the country to upgrade its regulations and standards to the level of the global world. Serbia’s reforms agenda resulted in significant achievements recognized by the IMF, World Bank and other international creditors and institutions. The results of conducted reforms such as: fiscal consolidation, e-permitting, the start of Cadaster reform, broader portfolio of E-government services, high standards in renewable energy and other, are very appealing to foreign investors including Israelis. Stable political environment is essential to keep the taken course of reforms. Of course, the issues of cutting the red tape, creating and maintaining a stable legal framework with an efficient judiciary, transparency of procedures, rule of law, are of great importance for Israeli and other investors with room for further advancement. Improved credit rating, positive macroeconomic indicators and perspective of growth, will contribute to more investments in the years ahead.

2 I think we should make a distinction between multinationals coming as investors in the region and opening R&D offices compared to those solely interested in distribution and trade of different goods and services. For such, the main criteria for investment would be consumption per capita. In today’s global environment, even small countries with their unique advantages can make the impact and position themselves favorably. It is essential that Serbia would explore its existing competitive advantages and unique features in order to position in the global market. Israel is an example of that. Our country has similar population as Serbia and is three size smaller in sq. m. Taking into consideration geopolitical challenges and demographic factors as well as the size, our government decided to shift the economy to technology and innovation driven, export oriented. Nowadays, Israel is home of global multinational tech companies which located their R&D offices. Serbia has skillful labor force, geographic position between East and West, favorable preconditions for agriculture, tourism etc. Its numerous free trade agreements with countries outside of the EU add to attractiveness in serving as a bridge between different markets. All should be taken into consideration when formulating a brand image with finding a unique feature that merges everything. Serbia has capacity to take a leading role in the Western Balkans in terms of economic and political agenda and as such to position the region on the map of EU and globally based on its uniqueness and defined driving forces of the economy.

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