Erich Cossutta: The future lies in modern technology

One of our priorities in the coming period will also be digital transformation and joining the global digital Supply Chain.

In accordance with economic trends and changes in the business climate, our company started a serious process of diversification of operations, Erich Cossutta, President of Dragon Maritime Group, says for Diplomacy&Commerce. Our goal is to be able to offer a one-stop shop to our clients, Cossutta says.

Erich Cossutta, President of Dragon Maritime Group

As the president of a company that operates in several countries of the region, how do you see the business climate in the region?

If we look at the real indicators, the region has achieved positive economic growth in recent years despite the global crisis. We also feel a positive trend in the normalization of relations, and we are especially pleased that the southern part of the Region has started to think unanimously. We still have a long way to go, but a positive outcome is very certain through regional economic integration and a common business approach. This is exactly why the Open Balkan initiative is important, since it aims to unify the region and integrate it into the single European market. This initiative means the removal of many barriers that significantly slowed down and anesthetized the Balkans region.

How much do the new business circumstances – after the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation and instability, affect your business operations? What do the numbers say?

The recession caused by the pandemic, and the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine are reflected in all national economies. The logistics sector itself faced many challenges, and all the weaknesses of global supply chains came to the fore. During 2021, the demand was at its peak, but on the other hand, the lack of operation and congestion in the ports could not keep up with it. This caused a classic imbalance of supply and demand and led to a skyrocketing of freight rates, which rose up to 800% compared to the pre-pandemic period. At the same time, the allocation on ships was extremely limited, while transit times were much longer than usual. Today, the situation is drastically different, the high rate of inflation, geopolitical conflicts, the energy crisis and the pandemic have led to a drop in demand, and therefore a sharp drop in freight rates, and it is uncertain how long this trend will continue.

You do business in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. How much doing business differs considering the fact that two of these are EU member states and two are not?

There is no doubt that the differences exist. Slovenia and Croatia are part of a single EU market where the free movement of goods and services is ensured, thereby saving time and reducing the costs of administrative procedures for forwarding and customs clearance. However, we have no major difficulties with doing business in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both countries are signatories to numerous agreements and initiatives – free trade agreements, they are part of the SEED project, the Green Corridors initiative, the Open Balkans initiative. EU membership will certainly make doing business in Serbia and BiH even easier.

What are the idiosyncrasies of the Serbian market?

Serbia is a part of Europe and as such, is an almost exclusive link between the world’s most important markets, such as the European Union on the one hand, and the Mediterranean and Asia on the other. Serbia’s geography facilitates logistical connections which is one of its special and crucial advantages in the modern world.

By joining the global digital “Supply Chain”, Serbia becomes a valid link in that chain and a place where the same standards apply as in the rest of the chain.

Our focus is always on our employees and we can boast a very low brain drain

Through this global digital supply chain, Serbia really has an opportunity to use all its potential, first of all geographical, but also production, logistics, intellectual, agricultural and all the others at its disposal. To quote Marshall:”Technology brings ways to bypass obstacles, that is, to pass through them”, including, for instance, bottlenecks created by outdated customs procedures.

The logistics industry already has a large share in Serbia’s economy because, by its nature, it had to recognize Serbia’s advantages early on, and that it did. But there is still room for great progress in the development of Serbia’s strategic capacities.

What is it that separates Dragon Maritime Group from its competition?

Tradition and people. I am part of a business that has been handed down in my family for generations, and today, together with my partners who are part of the ownership structure of Dragon Maritime Group, we endeavour to cherish the same values, which is to always put people first. Our focus is always on our employees and we can boast a very low brain drain. Although tradition is very important to us, as a company we are always focused on the future and innovation.

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