FIC Presented Business Climate to Belgian and Dutch Companies
30. May 2012
FIC was invited by associations of Belgian and Dutch companies in agriculture and horticulture sector to participate in the activities of their study visit to Serbia scheduled for the end of May.
The Association of Belgian Horticultural Auctions - VBT is a non-profit organisation which represents the interests of marketing cooperatives in the fruit and vegetable sector. The Dutch Produce Association (DPA) is the Dutch sector association for marketing organisations of fruit, vegetables and mushrooms. The aim of their visit scheduled for May 29th to June 1st was to explore possibilities of both doing business in Serbia and developing network for trade cooperation. FIC Executive Director Ana Firtel and FIC Food & Agriculture President Milica Stefanovic delivered a 10 minutes presentation to representatives of both associations. The event was organized in Belgrade Moskva Hotel on Wednesday, May 30th.
Ana Firtel made introduction to FIC putting focus on SWOT analysis of Serbia's business climate and gave few examples as an illustration. She pointed out that ten years ago situation with regards to business climate was much more difficult than now days, and that currently majority of laws are harmonized with EU regulations however there is still room for improvement. On macro level, structural reforms should be finalized and capacities of state administration to implement laws in practise should be improved. Among Serbia's strengths she mentioned good geo-strategic positioning, competitive price of labour force, as well as Government's receptiveness towards foreign investors in terms of their readiness to hear problems that investors face in their operations. Among Serbia's weaknesses she mentioned underdeveloped infrastructure, not sufficiently predictable business environment since from the business point of view it is hard to follow changes in regulations and be competitive. To illustrate the situation with an example, she said that more than 800 new laws were adopted in past 4 years. As an opportunities for Serbia, achieved candidacy status was noted as well as potential for market growth and vast FTA network which includes European Union, EFTA, USA, CEFTA, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Among Serbia's threats, macro-economic situation, sudden regulatory changes and inconsistent application of regulations were noted.
Milica Stefanovic introduced FIC Food & Agriculture Committee which is as she said ‘'fairly new Committee'' whose main goal is to provide proposals and improve regulatory framework relating to the food and agriculture industry. She said that Committee's key topics are: sanitary inspection; regulation on labelling of foodstuff; subsidies; registration of PPPS; quality standards in milk and juice production; reclassification and labelling of chemicals and livestock breeding. Committee members already set a common agenda that Committee will pursue in the following period. Currently, Committee gathers 32 companies from agriculture and food sector but also other businesses that cooperate with companies coming from this field (i.e. banks, retailers...). She presented SWOT analysis of food& agriculture sector, mentioning as strengths timely harmonization of structurally important areas with EU regulations and agriculture and food processing as economic activities with long lasting tradition while as weaknesses she noted lack of supportive by-laws and low administrative capacity to implement regulations. Milica Stefanovic explained that it is important for companies to have the same standards than everywhere else in EU and that this is seen as an opportunity. To illustrate the situation with an example she said that creating basis for setting up of National Reference Laboratories would be a positive step forward. Outdated and obsolete horizontal procedures still remain as threats.
Both FIC representatives concluded that Serbia has significant potential for market growth especially in the field of agriculture, and that generally speaking foreign investors present here have positive experiences from doing business on this market.
Other speakers included H.E Mr. Alain Paul Francis Kundycki, Belgium Ambassador, Mr. Adrie de Roo, Agricultural Counsellor for the Western Balkans, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Mr. Nenad Mitosevic, Assistant Economic Councillor, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Mr. Milos Milovanovic, Assistant Minister for Agrarian Policy and Ms Evica Mihaljevic, Association "Fruits of Serbia".
FIC Presentation DPA-VBT.pdf [ pdf 228,3KB ]