Lowland experience: Can Serbia become the new Netherlands?

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If we look at the northern third of the Serbian land, we can see that it looks pretty much like the Netherlands: the plains, wind, big waterways, agriculture, shipbuilding, opportunities for development of technology… The cooperation between the two countries is good, but it is precisely these areas that hold opportunities for progress.

So far, there has been a lot of talk about the economic potential for the development of cooperation, with the Dutch companies expressing a special interest in cooperating with Serbia in the sectors like shipbuilding, production of buses and trucks, as well as in the field of energy and agriculture. The political and economic relations between Serbia and the Netherlands have been developing in a positive direction in recent years and, according to the National Bank of Serbia, the Netherlands is one of the largest investors in our country. The Dutch companies had invested more than 6 billion euros in Serbia by May 2018. The Netherlands thus became one of the largest investors with as many as 15,000 workers in Serbia working for Dutch firms. Companies such as Ahold-Delhaize, Heineken, KupujemProdajem, 010, Levi9, Affidea, Vahali, Windvision and many others are significant players globally, and in Serbia, at the local level – the Dutch Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Mr. Henk van den Dool points out.

SIMILARITIES AND POTENTIAL

Deputy Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Serbia, Ms. Mariella Van Miltenburg, said at the end of last year: “Our companies are leading in the production of fodder, shipbuilding, and beer production, and they are also present in the IT sector and retail”. Ms. Van Miltenburg also noted that there was room for further improvement of the economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of energy, agriculture and water management, and added that she was working on bringing other Dutch companies to Serbia. Nevertheless, she added, the greatest potential for a mutually beneficial cooperation lies in the field of renewable energy resources. A good example of cooperation in this area is the biogas cogeneration plant in Botoš near Zrenjanin. “This is a project which is financially supported by the Dutch government, and developed by the Dutch company HOST, which is why we are very proud of it”, she added.

Renewable energy resources, especially wind farms, have a great potential, and Serbia is only in its infancy in this area. The Dutch experience can be of great importance here, given that Serbia has the košava wind that could be very bankable. There is, of course, bioenergy too. Considering how much maize, wheat and plant waste we have in Serbia, this segment should not be underestimated. Also, given the region’s well-known beer consumption, transfer of technologies in this area has absolutely raised the standards of brewing in Serbia.

WHAT NEXT?

Serbia does not stand still, and at the same time while we are putting this article together, Serbia is being very active in the Netherlands. With the view of supporting and promoting export, the Development Agency of Serbia and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia organized the appearance of Serbian companies at the Serbian booth at the international brand trade fair, PLMA, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 29th and 30th May 2018. At the fair, Serbia had a presentation in the Fair’s venue reserved for food products, at the country’s booth that spanned 108 square metres.

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