Knowing the potential of the United Arab Emirates and Serbia, and the complementarity of our two economies, I am deeply convinced that the limits of our achievements are only those we set for ourselves
In the first special issue of the InFocus edition dedicated to the overall relations between the United Arab Emirates and Serbia, we talked with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the UAE Serbia Business Club, Nikola Mihailović, about starting the first special issue of the InFocus edition dedicated to the overall relations between the United this business club in Serbia, and economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
We also talked about the challenges faced by companies during the pandemic, opportunities for economic growth and potential for improving cooperation. “The UAE and Serbia have very good cooperation at the state level, have recognized each other as partners and we have a lot to offer each other, both in terms of external trade, as well as the exchange of know-how and experience. The UAE Serbia Business Club will work on further developing relations between the two countries and opening as many channels as possible for the exchange of information”, says Mr. Mihailović.
The UAE Serbia Business Club gathers investors from the UAE and Serbian companies that do business with the Emirates. What can further be done to improve economic cooperation between the two countries?
The United Arab Emirates and Serbia have very good cooperation at the state level, and that is the basic prerequisite for the development of economic relations between the two countries. However, to make the most of the entire potential that this cooperation has, we need to form the widest possible front of information, know-how and experience exchange between the two countries. The UAE Serbia Business Club brings together companies of esteemed reputation from both countries, which recognize their development potential in cooperation and is a platform that promotes and facilitates this exchange, from which new ideas and new business opportunities arise.
THE UAE SERBIA BUSINESS CLUB BRINGS TOGETHER COMPANIES OF ESTEEMED REPUTATION FROM BOTH COUNTRIES, WHICH RECOGNIZE THEIR DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL IN COOPERATION
The economies of both the UAE and Serbia have been hit by the pandemic. What is the forecast for 2021 and what challenges await us this year?
If we look globally, we have all faced an unprecedented situation. I think that in circumstances that were completely new to all of us, the governments of both countries managed the situation with considerable success, putting the health of the population in the first place, but at the same time, managing to sustain economic life at an enviable level. Thanks to that, we have a good basis for recovery from the negative effects of the pandemic. On the other hand, the speed of this recovery, in the case of both the UAE and Serbia, will largely depend on external factors, i.e. the speed of recovery of the global economy.
The estimates show that the trade between the UAE and Serbia has increased up to six times in the last few years. Which segments saw an intensified cooperation and where do you see a potential for expansion?
The UAE and Serbia have identified themselves as strategic partners. We have a lot to offer each other but also learn from each other. The greatest potential lies in food production and new technologies, primarily in information and communication technologies.
THE GLOBAL BANKING SECTOR SHARES THE DESTINY OF THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE, AND THE BEST WAY TO OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES IS TO FIND THE MOST OPTIMAL SOLUTIONS TOGETHER
In the past decades, a plethora of top experts graduated from our engineering faculties, who subsequently built careers and have proven themselves on the most demanding projects and the best universities around the world. The quality we have has been validated in recent years by new generations through the dynamic development of domestic software companies. As the United Arab Emirates sees its future in the development of a knowledge-based economy, I think that we can learn from and implement such an approach in our country. Also, the UAE is a market that has great potential to accept the products of our knowledge.
What do you think about the measures implemented by the Serbian government and how much have the UAE companies operating in Serbia been affected by the crisis?
In terms of measures, the most important thing is that we have a coordinated action between the Government and the National Bank of Serbia. The adopted measures were timely and have created the necessary space for the economy and citizens to adapt to the new circumstances. Regarding the UAE companies that operate in Serbia, they share the destiny of all other companies that operate on our market and are affected as much as the industry in which they operate has been affected.
The government has announced a set of financial measures for the economy. In the macroeconomic sense, what is the situation like in Serbia?
In the given circumstances, I think that Serbia’s macroeconomic position is good. We are in this position both because of the timely measures implemented by the Government and the National Bank of Serbia, and because of the very structure of our economy, which is much less dependent on the industries most affected (by the pandemic), such as tourism, than in some other countries of our region. I think that now that we have all adapted to the new circumstances in some way, it would be good for the new set of measures to be targeted at the most vulnerable segments.
From the UAE Serbia Business Club’s stance, what are the most important measures for maintaining the set goals of economic growth? What are the most important measures for the banking sector, considering that you are the head of a bank?
The economy and the banking sector go hand-in-hand. There is no strong economy without a strong banking sector and no strong banking sector without a strong economy. Having that in mind, we, at Mirabank, constantly underline that, although we are a bank with UAE capital, we are primarily a local bank and a part of the local community and our goal is to support the development of the Serbian economy. In terms of the goals related to economic growth, as I said earlier, I think that we have a good foundation, but that the accomplishment of the set goals will largely depend on external factors. In this context, Mirabank strives to be the backbone of further improvement of economic trade between the United Arab Emirates and Serbia and thus contribute to the achievement of the set goals related to economic growth.
How will the crisis affect the sector in which you operate and the company you run in Serbia, and what changes await us when it comes to the regulatory framework?
The global banking sector shares the destiny of the economy as a whole, and the best way to overcome the challenges is to find the most optimal solutions together. Thanks to the stability and security provided by reputable shareholders that have large capacities, Mirabank is in a position to provide the highest level of service to its partners in new circumstances, but also not to project a future crisis ahead but rather an opportunity for further development and growth.
Regarding the regulatory framework, I believe that the National Bank of Serbia will continue with initiatives relating to the development of innovative digital services, where we already see significant positive effects through the projects implemented so far. Furthermore, I think that it would be very important if the Law on Foreign Exchange Operations was amended, which, I strongly think, would further boost Serbia’s position in attracting foreign capital.
Given your abundant international experience gained in different sectors, what will the crisis change the most and are there any good things it has brought?
Every crisis or challenge mobilizes and additionally motivates us to, first and foremost, re-examine ourselves and our immediate environment, recognize our strengths and weaknesses and discern whether the recognized strengths are relevant in the new circumstances and whether we can still further improve them. The crisis also drives us to overcome the identified weaknesses, or perhaps transform the weaknesses from earlier circumstances into strengths.
If we approach the crisis in this way, we come out of it stronger and more able to seize new opportunities. I think that both the UAE and Serbia are in a good position to, through quality analysis and investment of available resources, make the best use of the challenges that lie ahead. Having in mind the complementarity of our two economies, I think that this refers even more to the projects that we will implement together.
What are the development plans for the UAE Serbian Business Club this year, as well as for the overall relations between our two countries?
Relations between our two countries are at a very high level, thanks to the extraordinary cooperation that has been achieved between state institutions and chambers of commerce of the two countries. The UAE Serbia Business Club, as an association of companies from the two countries, gives its contribution to this cooperation through the exchange of information, know-how and experiences related to our two markets. The Club envisages its further development through the opening of as many channels as possible through which this exchange would be conducted and helping its members to give their maximum contribution to the further increase of the trade between our countries. Know- ing the potential of the United Arab Emirates and Serbia, and the complementarity of our two economies, I am deeply convinced that the limits of our achievements are only those we set for ourselves.