Oliver Šarov, Senior Policy Adviser for Economic Affairs & Trade Embassy of the Netherlands – Building economic bridges

I consider myself to be in a very privileged position. I work for the country I was raised in, the Netherlands, in the country my parents were raised in, Serbia.
Oliver Šarov, Senior Policy Adviser for Economic Affairs & Trade Embassy of the Netherlands

My job is to help build economic bridges between the two and connect people and businesses to achieve great things. I firmly believe that combining Dutch innovation, creativity and pragmatism with Serbian resourcefulness, craftsmanship and skill is a recipe for success.

In fact, that is proven on a daily basis by the diverse and very successful Dutch business community in Serbia. Companies bring together the best of both worlds, and employ more than 17.000 people, in order to brew excellent beer, build ships, promote urban greenery, create IT solutions, solve water management issues and grow produce that we enjoy every day and much more. A person in Serbia comes into contact with something Dutch that makes their life more enjoyable 4-6 times a day, ranging from using Wi-Fi, booking a holiday, to going to the supermarket or ordering a beer. We’ll be launching a campaign called ‘’Dutch Drops’’ soon, where we’ll be introducing you to all things Dutch.

DSBA started by four companies in 2018, and now is approaching 50 members and brings together SME’s and companies like KLM, Ahold-Delhaize and Heineken

What excites me in that regard is that we are seeing a considerable increase in interest from new companies in the Netherlands to join the Dutch business community in Serbia and those who are located here already are thriving and expanding. The numbers show that. When I started in this position four years ago our bilateral trade was ca. €700 million. We are now fast approaching €1 billion. The Netherlands is a more important export market for Serbian companies than countries like Turkey, the US and China according to the Serbian Statistics Office. The Dutch-Serbian Business Association, started by four companies in 2018, is now fast approaching 50 members and brings together SME’s and companies like KLM, Ahold-Delhaize and Heineken.

Why is all this important? Because it helps this country develop through knowledge-transfer, employment, sustainable business practices and increased investments. It also sends a clear signal. A signal that the reforms that are being successfully undertaken to safeguard macro-economic stability, improve the business environment and increase transparency and accountability pay off and are incredibly important.

In the eyes of investors, Serbia can and is showing itself to be a reliable, stable and promising destination for business. Now is the time to double-down and ensure that a clear track-record in rule of law reforms and increased transparency amplify that impression further still. The potential to increase our cooperation is enormous and ranges from waste water management, port infrastructure, medical equipment, urban greening, IT to agriculture.

On our part, we are pro-actively working to facilitate B2B, B2G and G2G cooperation, promote Serbia as an investment destination, and support reforms – to build bridges. At the moment we are focusing on water, agriculture and urban greening. For the latter, keep an eye out for our Green Groove campaign that highlights our activities in the scope of the Green Year – bee gardens, a green business coalition, anti-smog tower in Knez Mihailova and urban garden. This all makes working at the Embassy, and particularly in the economy and trade field, a very busy but exciting and energizing place to be.

While the pandemic, and I will only mention that horrible thing once, has slowed everyone down to an extent, it is now time to pick up where we left off and move forward with renewed energy.  Make sure you ‘’stay in touch with the Dutch’’ on our social media and follow the exciting things we are doing.

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