It is encouraging to see that, in recent years, Serbian businesses are focussing on higher value-added products and services that have appeal in the UK market
The United Kingdom and Serbia share 184 years of history. Our bilateral cooperation has doubled in the last ten years, and Serbia is the 67th country in the world with which UK has concluded a partnership and trade agreement. Serbia is an attractive destination that ranks well in economic rankings, like the World Bank’s Doing Business list. Large British companies such as Unilever, AstraZeneca and JCB are successful in Serbia. We talked about the cooperation between Serbia and the United Kingdom with Jadranka Dervišević Kitarić, Executive Director of the British Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Dervišević Kitarić is the London-based Director responsible for new business development, member liaison and program implementation in the UK.
If you were to compare the UK and Serbian market, what would you say are the most significant differences and similarities?
As Adam Smith reminded us in 18th Century, different countries are good at different things. For example, the UK enjoys competitive advantage in the design and manufacture of specialist machinery, biopharma and financial services. It is also important to highlight the high standards in civil engineering and project finance. By the same token, Serbia has a comparative advantage in ICT, contract manufacturing, specialty agriculture and high-quality food. It is encouraging to see that, in recent years, Serbian businesses are focussing on higher value-added products and services that have appeal in the UK market.
Serbia has much to offer the UK traveller; magnificent countryside, a fascinating history, fabulous food and, of course, the warmth of the Serbian people
To maximise its comparative advantage each country should play to their strengths. As a bilateral chamber, the BSCC are determined to bring the best from both countries for the benefit of all stakeholders. The new trade agreement makes this far easier to achieve.
British culture is so popular in Serbia. It was so during former Yugoslavia, with pop music, ‘Allo, ‘Allo, Monty Python Flying Circus, Only Fools and Horses… Can we enhance this cooperation and presence of British culture even more? And vice versa, to present Serbian culture in the UK?
It’s probably fair to say that the promotion of culture has not been a priority, certainly since the financial crisis of 2008. As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, tourism has enormous potential as a mechanism for cultural exchange. The economic benefits of tourism are also significant.
Serbia has much to offer the UK traveller; magnificent countryside, a fascinating history (for example 14th Century monasteries), fabulous food and, of course, the warmth of the Serbian people. To promote Serbian food in the UK the BSCC have been active in supporting the Speciality Food Exhibition in London.
The UK, of course, is a leading tourist destination. My advice for Serbian travellers is to explore the country outside London.
How important is it to share knowledge and experiences, especially when it comes to young people?
Young people will shape the future of bilateral relations between the UK and Serbia. The UK benefits from a world class higher education sector and attracts many talented Serbian students who act as great ambassadors. They tend to perform at a high level in elite institutions, a testament to the excellent secondary education system in Serbia.
What can we learn from each other? How can we emulate the British way of doing business as much as possible in Serbia?
In business, the best way to learn from each other is to work together on practical projects. ”Repetitio est mater studiorum” (“Repetition is the mother of learning”).