Patrizio Dei Tos, President of Confindustria Serbia – The Italian Investment Hotspot

Italian and Serbian companies have been working together to overcome the pandemic’s consequences and form a stronger entrepreneurial environment

The President of Confindustria Serbia, Patrizio Dei Tos, is looking forward to economic growth in the near future, in the post-pandemic period. Italian companies in Serbia have been developing with numerous new sectors opening, thus enhancing further expansion. Our journalist Mina Vučić had the great opportunity to interview the President of Confindustria Serbia for the sixth edition of Italy InFocus magazine dedicated to the Italian economy in Serbia and discuss the current Serbian-Italian relations and plans.

Patrizio Dei Tos, President of Confindustria Serbia


How do you evaluate the economic cooperation between Italy and Serbia, especially during the pandemic?


Firstly, the cooperation between our two countries has always been very good and professional. I have to thank Serbia for vaccinating nearly everyone in our executive office and in our board, making our relations even more valuable. Obviously, people’s mobility is the biggest problem at the moment. However, I must admit that Serbian institutions have always been prepared to solve the difficulties in the fastest and most professional manner.


What else could the Serbian government do this year to help businesses overcome this crisis as quickly as possible?


This is a very interesting question for us entrepreneurs because today, more than ever, we need support to maintain the workforce. I believe the main focus should be on financial aid as we have a lot of companies in the development phase seeking new investment opportunities. Unfortunately, the current financial aid from the government might not be sufficient enough to give that courage to companies to invest. If companies start investing, they are surely going to have a spot in the market but most importantly, they will create new jobs. Therefore, in my opinion, the focus today should be on boosting the market and generating those investments which is the main way our companies will grow and develop and be better prepared to face everything that comes their way. I also want to add that my instinct tells me that after the Covid-19-induced crisis, economies will start booming and growing, so being prepared to face what is coming next is very important for the companies. If we help and support companies now to invest and be prepared to take off once again after the pandemic, this will guarantee success in the near future. Lastly, financial aid is something that Serbian institutions should emphasize to help generate investments and help companies be better prepared for what’s to come. 

I am glad to see that Serbia has made great strides with its vaccination schemes and this provides us all with great help, stability and hope for a better future

 Many Italian companies came to the Serbian market and created a large number of new jobs. What is Confindustria’s role in all of this? Also, could you tell us what were the main problems that companies faced in 2020?


Our job is to accompany businesses, not only during their market entry phase but also during their entire life cycle. Hence, it is important for us to nurture great relations with all the institutions we work with. We push the companies forward and support them in their decision- making, therefore it is in our best interest to have strong relations with the Italian Embassy and other institutions in Serbia. The main issues we faced in 2020 were the mobility of our employees, specifically in Italy, as the country was kept under strict lockdown and restrictions throughout the year. I hope that Serbian tourists will be able to come to our country sooner rather than later since tourism is one of Italy’s biggest and most important economic sectors. I am glad to see that Serbia has made great strides with its vaccination schemes and this provides us all with great help, stability and hope for a better future. 


As far as Italian investors are concerned, what are the greatest advantages of investing in Serbia?


I always first analyze the problems that we face in Italy. Entrepreneurs in Italy, unfortunately, face very difficult bureaucratic measures. Here, in Serbia, the government has been cutting red tape and bureaucratic procedures are much simpler, as the country is smaller and younger and has a completely different dynamic. The relations and negotiations with institutions are also faster and more efficient which leads to easier problem-solving. Looking at Serbia through an entrepreneurial lens, we have succeeded in forming and opening companies much faster. If we have any upcoming projects, we start implementing them more efficiently and concretely. Moreover, the land here is very fertile, and the quality-to-cost ratio is quite strong. Plus, the workforce availability is good, and you have excellent managers and skilled labor which gives investors a great advantage here. 

Financial aid is something that Serbian institutions should emphasize to help generate investments and help companies be better prepared for what’s to come

Can the cooperation between the two countries further grow and if ‘yes’, in which segments?


There is always space for improvement. From what I’ve seen and analyzed so far, the production of secondary raw materials in Serbia could generate much-needed growth and development. The Serbian energy sector, which also entails the production of more sustainable energy as well as waste recycling, is something that needs to function properly in the future. Digitalization is another sector of development that is trending around Europe and Serbia is facing the same demands. These two sectors have to grow and will have vital importance in the future of the country’s economy. 

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How do you cooperate with the Serbian institutions and are you satisfied with the cooperation?


I can say that, fortunately, I’ve experienced very professional and transparent relations with the Serbian institutions, which allowed me much faster decision-making processes overall. Serbian institutions operate seriously and professionally which helps different processes and creates opportunities for new growth and development. All in all, it has been very satisfying. 


What can Italian companies learn from Serbian and vice versa? What connection do you feel to this country?


I made a lot of friends in Serbia. I enjoy my time here very much as it was very easy for me to fit in. Quite frankly, I first made friends and then companies, so these friendly relations were of great help. The Italian market is very competitive and it is very difficult for entrepreneurs there. If you manage to launch a business in Italy, you’ll be apt enough to launch it anywhere else in the world due to the immense bureaucratic obstacles, rivalry and administration in Italy that really trains you for any other market. What I think Serbs can also learn from us is innovation and creativity and using them within the set limits. Likewise, Italians can learn from Serbs about rigidness and organization which is very important in our entrepreneurial world. Overall though, both countries have very similar characteristics and friendliness which creates a healthy working environment and hopefully, this will continue in the future. Although it is a very different market, I would like to take small and medium-sized Serbian businesses to Italy and push them to grow and develop there. I think it is always better to have a lot of smaller businesses that operate in different sectors than a big company which only supports a certain industrial segment.

Both countries operate seriously and professionally which helps different processes and creates opportunities for new growth and development

What projects will Confindustria implement in 2021 and what will you focus on?


An idea which emerged a few years back and unfortunately got stalled by the current situation in the world, is to support companies in their efforts to staff and employees training for the market of the future. We also want to help new investments in companies in every direction. We cannot forget that we are living in a very globalized world and it is impossible to grow a company without properly preparing and training all of the employees which run it. I would say digitalization is also on our list, and further development of the energy sector, which is something Europe is currently focusing on. 


Why is the new edition of Italy InFocus important for Confindustria? 


I believe that communication is important for any company, as well as to be able to publicly show whatever they are doing. We are thankful to you for this opportunity. We are now able to inform the audience about our activities that are in our focus and who we cooperate with, which is very important. You are our source of communication and thank you for it.

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