The main objective of HEPA’s representative office for the Balkans is to bring the Balkan countries closer to Hungary through commerce and investments. In Serbia, we are focused on the formation of joint Serbian – Hungarian companies and direct Hungarian investments, especially in central and southern Serbia- Nemanja Milutinović, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Serbia and President of HEPA for the Western Balkans
The Hungarian Export Promotion Agency (HEPA) is a non-profit company that aims to help Hungarian companies successfully enter foreign markets with new and professional services. Hungarian companies offer quality, world-class products and services in several industries, and their export growth shows that they are globally competitive.
Through training, promotion and networking, HEPA helps companies to find adequate business partners internationally, “explains Nemanja Milutinović, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Serbia and HEPA President for the Western Balkans. HEPA encourages the formation of business relationships with the highest export potential for Hungarian companies and at the same time, helps foreign partners to find adequate deals in Hungary. It also provides professional services to partners to support the continued export success of Hungarian businesses and the visibility of the country’s international image. At the same time, HEPA cooperates with other state economic institutions.
What are HEPA’s tasks in Serbia and the region?
— HEPA’s representative office for the Balkans was opened in 2019 to improve Hungarian commerce and diversify Hungary’s foreign economic relations. Our main task is to promote the export of Hungarian products, services and capital. The plan is to make Hungarian products accessible and recognizable in our region. HEPA’a Office in Belgrade facilitates the flow of information through the Regional Chamber of Commerce network as well as the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The main objective is to consider all the possibilities of bilateral cooperation, including product distribution, re-export of intermediate products, joint venture investments, knowledge transfer, cooperation in the field of service products, tourism and similar business areas. Talking to bank presidents and financial stakeholders in Serbia, the stability of the financial market is evident thanks to the policies implemented by President Aleksandar Vučić and numerous investments coming from countries around the world. Serbia has become fertile business ground and, in recent years, has become attractive for investing and creating new thanks to the provisions that the Serbian Development Agency gives foreign investors. There is a fusion between foreign investments and our subsidies, and Hungary has recognized that in the right way.
Where are HEPA’s offices located in the world?
— The Balkan headquarters is located in Belgrade with partner offices in North Macedonia and Montenegro. Besides, HEPA has offices in Istanbul (Turkey), Athens (Greece), Tokyo (Japan) and Shanghai (China). All HEPA’s representative offices operate on the same principle and have the same goals.
How much are Hungary and Serbia expected to support HEPA’s activities?
— Given that HEPA was established by the Hungarian government, that is, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, we can conclude that strategic support already exists. As Hungary is Serbia’s first neighbour and a part of the territory covered by HEPA in the Western Balkans, HEPA and the Serbian Development Agency signed a cooperation agreement stipulating the implementation of joint projects. In this way, the two countries have formalized the support for HEPA’s projects relating to the cooperation between Hungarian and Serbian companies. Furthermore, the aim of HEPA’s office in Belgrade is informing the market about the opportunities for cooperation with Hungary, in which the Hungarian Embassy in Serbia is also involved which again provides a form of diplomatic assistance.
What projects are you currently working on?
— We expect that several projects to be launched shortly, especially relating to forming joint Serbian – Hungarian companies, direct Hungarian investments, especially in central and southern Serbia, as well as to the import of Hungarian products. We are currently focusing on the Regional Fair in Mostar and we are assisting Hungarian companies regarding their participation in this trade fair which is one of the largest international trade fairs that attracts visitors across the region. Our mission is to introduce Hungarian companies and their high-quality products, as well as to enable them to penetrate our market by organizing business meetings with potential partners. The fair is being held in Mostar from 31 March to 4 April, and Hungary is a partner-country this year. In addition to HEPA from Hungary, chambers of commerce from Serbia and Montenegro, as well as the Serbian Development Agency, are participating in the fair. Plus, regional political leaders will also attend the fair, which speaks volumes about its importance for the economy of the entire region.