“Greek-Serbian Bilateral Trade & Regional Synergies”
Greece is the 2nd most important foreign investor in Serbia
26. October 2011. | 09:15
Author: Nikos D. A. Arvanites
Deputy foreign minister Dimitris Dollis met in Belgrade on Monday with Serbia's Foreign and Economic and Regional Cooperation Ministers. Dollis's meetings with the Serb officials focused on economic cooperation and the activities of Greek businesses in Serbia.
Deputy foreign minister Dimitris Dollis met in Belgrade on Monday with Serbia's Foreign and Economic and Regional Cooperation Ministers Vuk Jeremic and Nebojsa Ciric respectively.
Bilateral issues were examined during the meetings and the excellent relations between the two countries were confirmed once again.
Dollis's meetings with the Serb officials also focused on economic cooperation and the activities of Greek businesses in Serbia.
The Greek deputy foreign minister is in Belgrade where he will be participating in the two-day "Go International" business conference due to begin on Monday evening.
Despite crisis, Serbia-Greece cooperation grows
Greek banks will not reduce their exposure in Serbia, and none of Greek companies has retired from the Serbian market despite the crisis in their country, Serbian Minister of Economy Nebojsa Ciric and President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) Milos Bugarin stated late Monday.
During a break in the forum dubbed 'Greek - Serbian Bilateral Trade and Regional Synergies', Ciric told the press that in the past decade around 100 Greek companies directly invested in Serbia, adding that another 150 of their companies invested EUR 2.2 billion through joint enterprises. Greek banks make up 15 percent of the Serbian market, he said.
When it comes to Greek companies, Ciric noted there is a possibility that some of them give up on their investments and expansion of business in Serbia, in order to postpone that for a better time. President of PKS Milos Bugarin said that, despite the public debt crisis in Greece, trade between the two countries increased by 13 percent in 2011, given that Serbian export to Greece went up by 16 percent, and import by 10 percent.
This practically means that trade with Greece has been more successful in 2011 than in 2008, when it amounted to about USD 500 million, Bugarin stated. Compatible economies can boost cooperation regardless of crisis, he said, adding that it is unsatisfactory that Serbia exports products with lower level of processing to Greece.
The economic forum was attended by domestic and regional businessmen bankers, as well as Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Konuzin.
Greek Deputy FM: Greece is the 2nd most important foreign investor in Serbia
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here today in Belgrade in an event that in several ways epitomizes an advanced form of business cooperation between various partners.
To start with, we are here thanks to an initiative of Greece’s private sector. EUROBANK-EFG, one of the leading Greek banks decided last year to actively support Greek companies that wished to expand their international business. I would like to personally thank Mr. Giorgio Pradell, Head of Eurobank-EFG’s International Activities, who joined us from Athens in order to promote the Bank's efforts for international cooperation.
Today’s event follows another Forum that took place in Cyprus with more than a thousand bilateral business meetings. I must also note that Eurobank is not acting plainly as a major sponsor of the event. It is actively involved in all of its phases. Eurobank-EFG’s subsidiary in Serbia has significantly contributed to the success of this event by informing its corporate clients about the potential of cooperating with Greek enterprises.
It is not acting alone though. One swallow does not make a summer. It takes more so this is a joint effort by our 3 main Export Associations: the Pan-Hellenic Exporters Association, the Exporters Association of Northern Greece and the Exporters Association of Crete. Mrs. Sakellaridi, the President of the Pan-Hellenic Exporters Association, who also traveled from Athens has always been a strong supporter of international trade. The event is under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Serbia and the Greek-Serbian Business Council. Last but not least the Greek Embassy in Belgrade has devoted all of its human resources into the success of this event.
The result definitely meets our expectations. More than 300 companies originating not only in Greece and our host-country Serbia but also from, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Russia have joined the event in order to do business. Our diplomatic missions in these countries have worked hard for the success of today’s event.
Business and economic cooperation lies at the concept of the programme ‘GO INTERNATIONAL’. It is a far reaching initiative evolving into an institution of supporting extroversion and networking of Greek companies wishing to find partners beyond Greece’s borders. GO INTERNATIONAL is about creating business bridges with local business actors of each participating country as well as with countries of the wider area.
120 Greek and Cypriot companies from leading business sectors have come to Belgrade. A total of around 1800 business meetings are scheduled to take place tomorrow covering various sectors, such as food and beverages, energy, irrigation and water supply systems, building materials, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics.
Serbia has been a reliable long-standing partner for Greece and the relations between the two countries have always been excellent at all levels. Greece has strong historical ties of friendship and cooperation with Serbia. Greece fully supports Serbia’s accession path to the European Union. This was reaffirmed during the visit of Mr. Lambrinides, Minister of Foreign Affairs one month ago to Belgrade. Last week the European Commission proposed officially that the status of a candidate country for accession be awarded to Serbia. A decision upon this matter is expected to be taken in December at the EU Summit.
The accession process is important because after completing the necessary structural and economic reforms required Serbia’s role as a particularly developed country within the Western Balkans will be strengthened. Serbia is expected to emerge as a main actor in promoting the full convergence of Western Balkan economies to those of EU member states as well as in the fulfillment of the European-Mediterranean Partnership goals. All these are underpinned by Serbia’s geopolitical location and incorporation into the wider political and economic framework of the European Union and also by its preferential relation to Russia. Greece has been steadily supporting Serbia's coming closer to the European Union because we believe that Serbia as well the rest of the Western Balkan countries share the same values and belong together with the rest of Europe.
Serbia, a “tiger economy” of the Balkans as many people call it, is evolving into a business bridge for the whole of South-Eastern Europe and of course for Russia, a solid trade partner for both of our countries. It is worth reiterating that Serbia is the sole European country with a special trade agreement status with Russia; this makes Serbia a gateway to a vast market. Greece can benefit from Serbia’s significance as a business hub in its greater area.
I should note here that the excellent relationship between Greece and Serbia is also reflected in the economic sphere. Greece is the 2nd most important foreign investor in Serbia. The accumulated value of the Greek-interest capital invested in Serbia amounts to approximately €2.5 billion. Greek-interest companies are offering more than 25.000 job positions in Serbia. There are more than 200 Greek-Serbian joint ventures and 250 Greek companies operating in Serbia today.
At the same time Greece is one of the most popular tourism destinations for the Serbian people.
The Greek-Serbian trade volume stood at €324 mil. in 2010. The bilateral trade is quite balanced between our two countries and we strongly believe that there is ample space for growth, which will benefit both sides.
External trade together with shipping and tourism are the sectors that have the potential to bring the Greek economy back to a path of recovery and growth. The first signs in 2011 are very positive. The flow of foreign tourists into Greece has grown by approximately 14%, Greek ship owners continue to dominate the world market and improve their position and lastly but not least Greek exports have already risen by 12% to their highest level ever.
Allow me to bring to your attention the upgrading of Greece’s two major ports, those is Piraeus and Thessaloniki, that is currently underway. The completion of the construction of the Corridor 10 linking Greece to Serbia’s northern neighbours will totally alter in the future the logistics in the whole area. Our aspiration is to turn Piraeus and Thessaloniki into major hubs serving the needs of countries as far away as Central Europe.
Our economy though is going through a difficult period. The road to recovery will be long and difficult. For the past 2 years we have been working hard in Greece changing policies and implementing long-due reforms. It has not been an easy path. Quite the opposite. Change especially when it occurs within a short period of time can be painful. However we expect that the medium and long-term effects of the restructuring that is currently taking place in Greece will bring the country forward.
In times of crises one is forced to reevaluate his policies and adjust accordingly. Things that would otherwise be considered unthinkable suddenly seem to be within reach. All market players start to overcome perceptions established a long time ago and new forms of partnerships evolve. B2B meetings have been organized before. However this time it is a major joint effort of three dynamic exporters associations that assisted by Eurobank, a major financial institution, are making a leap forward into a better interconnected future. This initiative highlights the power of cooperation and collective action.
We are determined to support all efforts and initiatives of improving joint economic and business activities and increase extroversion towards countries of the region. It is also worth exploring the cooperation potential through joint enterprises in third countries and, especially, in the wider area of South East Europe, Western Balkans and the Russian market. The dynamic presence of Greek companies in all of the countries of South East Europe countries allows us to be optimistic.
I am confident that today's event and the business meetings that will follow tomorrow will produce fruitful results.I would like to thank you again for your warm reception in friendly Belgrade and wish all of you the best of success.