LUCA ZAIA, President of Veneto Region: STRENGTHENING OF THE RELATIONS IN THE FUTURE

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For the special publication dedicated to the projects and activites of Confindustria Serbia, we spoke with Mr. Luca
Zaia, Italian politician and President of the Veneto Region, who has a deep knowledge of Serbia and the region. In his interview he gave an overview about cooperation between Venetian and Serbian companies, the experience of Venetian companies in Serbia, Vojvodina as an interesting region, what values Venetian companies bringing to Serbia, etc:

„There is ease of relations between Venetian and Serbian people from the human point of view, and this is of great importance also for the economic relations. Serbia is certainly a point of reference for the entire Balkan area, which we must look at with ever-increasing attention and spirit of cooperation. I believe it is important to continue working to capitalize such existing skills and experiences and to foster increasingly the interaction between Venetian and Serbian companies for mutual growth“ said Mr. Zaia.

As somebody who has deep knowledge of Serbia and the region, how do you assess the changes the country went through in terms of reforms?

— My evaluation of the changes which have been taking place in Serbia for some years now is absolutely positive. They involve many crucial aspects of life in this country, such as the role of institutions, the European and international position of Serbia, its economic development and the overall evolution of the Serbian society. In this context, Serbia is certainly a point of reference for the entire Balkan area, which we must look at with ever-increasing attention and spirit of cooperation.

What is the experience of the Italian companies from Veneto already working in Serbia?

— As far as I know, the experience of Venetian companies in Serbia is largely positive. This is also proven by the new Laborlegno production plant, opened on 6th October 2018 in Sremska Mitrovica. I believe it is important to continue working to capitalize such existing skills and experiences and to foster increasingly the interaction between Venetian and Serbian companies for mutual growth. That is also one of the reasons for the organization of the public meeting “Serbia, a door to the Balkans, new economic opportunities for Venetian enterprises”, which will take place in Veneto, at the Exhibition Centre of the city of Verona, on 30th October 2018, and which is expected to be widely attended by Institutions, Chambers of Commerce, Development Agencies and Business Associations of Veneto and Serbia.

Why the majority of Italian investments are focused on Vojvodina?

— Vojvodina is particularly well served in terms of infrastructures and communication routes, and it is located in a strategic geographical position, which makes it a gateway to Hungary, Romania and, more in general, to Eastern Europe. I also think that the presence of a quality workforce is an important factor, carefully evaluated by the
companies before identifying Vojvodina as an interesting region for the development of their production. Having said that, I hope that the presence of Venetian companies and the business collaboration will grow throughout Serbia, because the areas of attraction and the significant skills in the country are manifold.

Veneto is known for the family business. What values are these companies bringing to Serbia?

— Commitment, accuracy, dedication, perseverance, fairness, reliability: these values are strongly rooted in the land and in the history of Veneto. The model of small and medium-sized enterprises which positively characterizes the Venetian economic system is based on these values. It is a model which does not only concern entrepreneurs and
workers, but extends to the entire Venetian community as a whole. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Veneto have indeed become increasingly large thanks to the quality of their production and their strong international projection. That is due to a social fabric imbued with the values rooted in the Venetian people, which are the basis not only of the economic development, but also of the overall high quality of life which characterizes our region. I believe that the Serbian community shares many of these values with the Venetian community and this, too, is a reason why it is easy for our institutions and companies to understand each other and collaborate.

What Italian investors from Veneto see as the major reasons for transferring some of their business to Serbia?

— Institutional and social stability are key factors, together with positive economic indicators and an industrious,
well trained workforce. I also believe, as I said before, that there is ease of relations between Venetian and Serbian people from the human point of view, and this is of great importance also for the economic relations. Furthermore,
Serbia is a reference country for the entire Balkan area and a strategic platform towards Eastern Europe, all the way to Russia.

As a president of one Italian region seven times larger than Serbia in terms of BDP what would be your major message for the public policy makers in Serbia? What is our recipe for success?

— I would recommend supporting small and medium enterprises, simplifying bureaucratic procedures, working on vocational training, developing infrastructures and strengthening relations with reliable foreign partners, such as the Veneto Region. I also hope that relations between Veneto and Serbia can be constantly strengthened in the future, and, on our part, we will certainly commit ourselves to making this happen. Long-lasting and sustainable economic
growth is a common challenge and Veneto and Serbia have a lot to share and exchange, bearing in mind that the international dimension is fundamental for our economies.

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