Djordje Petrović, Executive Director of the Dutch-Serbian Business Association (DSBA): We expect more investments from the Netherlands

The Netherlands tops the list of foreign investors in Serbia, investing over 4 billion euros in the previous ten years

With excellent trade and investment results in Serbia, relations between the Netherlands and Serbia remain at a high level. We talked about that and the DSBA with Djordje Petrović, executive director of the Dutch-Serbian Business Association.

Djordje Petrović, Executive Director of the Dutch-Serbian Business Association (DSBA)

Last year’s trade between the Netherlands and Serbia amounted to 870.98 million euros. Which aspect of cooperation between the two countries is the best, i.e. what contributed the most to such a result?

Few people know how strong the cooperation between the two countries is. In the previous five years, the trade between them amounted to more than 3 billion euros, with the last year’s trade amounting to almost 900 million. We hope that we will exceed a billion euros in trade annually. The Netherlands and Serbia have been cooperating in many different areas, but IT and agriculture take the lead.

Dutch investors have only praise Serbia. Are we going to see new Dutch investments this year as well, considering that the Netherlands top the list of foreign investors in the number of investments in Serbia from 2010 to 2020?

The Netherlands ranks first on the foreign investor list in Serbia, investing over 4 billion euros in the previous ten years. We were recently in The Hague where the Netherlands Enterprise Agency held a forum to present business opportunities in the Western Balkans.

We are confident that there is enough room for Serbian companies on the Dutch market

The Dutch Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Joost Reintjes, had a presentation which showed some of the largest investments of Dutch companies in Serbia. Apart from me, the forum was attended by Emily Holland, Secretary-General of the DSBA, as well as Bojan Leković, President of the Board, who chaired the round table discussion, which attracted a lot of attention and during which we discussed the current great opportunities, as well as obstacles. Bearing in mind the great interest that was shown in the forum, as well as based on the successes of Dutch companies in Serbia so far, I am confident that we can expect more investments from the Netherlands in the future.

Given the ongoing war in Eastern Europe, how much do you think it will affect the cooperation between Serbia and the Netherlands?

The war caused great disturbances on a global level and everyone is feeling certain consequences. The cooperation between Serbia and the Netherlands will probably be affected in some way, not in the sense of hindered relations between the two countries, but due to the disruption of the supply chain, it may not be possible to produce certain products and subsequently trade in them. At this point, it is very difficult to say how many disruptions there could be. We all hope that the war will end as soon as possible and that things will return to normal to some extent.

Have you had new members joining the DSBA recently, given the crisis? What is the mood among the members?

Only Dutch companies operating in Serbia and Serbian companies that already have economic ties with the Netherlands can become DSBA members. Therefore, our goal is not to have as many members as possible but to meet the needs of a narrowly defined target group in the best possible way. Despite the closed membership model we have, the number of our members has been going up year on year. Considering the unstable times we are living in at the moment, the mood of our members remains to be very good and a positive atmosphere prevails despite everything.

What can Serbian companies expect from the Netherlands? What is the Dutch market looking for that our companies can offer?

The Dutch market is very competitive and has leading global players in almost every industry operating in it. Nevertheless, we are confident that there is enough room for Serbian companies in the Dutch market. At the aforementioned forum in The Hague, we talked with the Serbian Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Ksenija Milenković, and we plan to hold a business gathering where we could present certain Serbian companies and their offer to the Dutch market. We also plan to assemble the business community at that gathering, because, at such events, new ideas and new business ventures are often born through making acquaintances. We have been planning to do this for a very long time, so we hope that it will finally be feasible to hold such a gathering in the autumn.

Serbia and the Netherlands have had good economic relations and the desire to improve them. What do we need to work on to make our relations even better?

We should work on deepening existing relations, presenting good examples from practice, connecting more political and business communities and getting better acquainted with our cultural differences. Everything we have accomplished so far in the cooperation between the two countries did not come overnight. A very large number of people have made a lot of effort to get us to where we are today, as well as further improve the current situation. I would like to underline the great and dedicated work of the Dutch Embassy in Serbia, both now, helmed by Ambassador Joost Reintjes, and in the past. The continuity of their committed work is very important. I am sure that the Dutch Embassy in Serbia will continue to be one of the key drivers of improving existing relations and developing new ones between the two countries. We, as the DSBA, and individuals will try to help with that as much as possible.

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