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SMEs important for competitiveness of Serbian economy

05. November 2011. | 10:28

Source: Emg.rs

Opening the 11th International Congress of SMEs, Kalanovic underlined that partners to SMEs in this process must be the economy, science and the state.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economy and Regional Development Verica Kalanovic Friday said that Serbia must have a strong and export-oriented SME sector if it wants to have a competitive economy at the global market.

Opening the 11th International Congress of SMEs, Kalanovic underlined that partners to SMEs in this process must be the economy, science and the state.

She said that a number of Serbian companies are affected by the crisis and are grappling with non-liquidity, short-term loans, high interest rates and oversized red tape.

On the other hand, Serbia has a clear EU path and strives to become part of the EU and its market, which is why it must have competitive products and modern SMEs.

Only 0.3% of GDP in Serbia is invested in knowledge and innovation, which is ten times lower than the projected target in EU states, she observed.

Kalanovic spoke in favour of greater ties between scientific and research institutions and SMEs, noting that only one in seven companies in Serbia invest in innovations and one in 14 establish innovative cooperation with other institutions and business entities.

She said that one of the short-term goals aimed to help the SME sector is the continuation of the programme of support to foreign and domestic investors.

We must back up large investors, such as Fiat, because they help us increase employment, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed.

She observed that short-term measures include professionalisation in the innovation sector, adding that projects should not be financed according to political or social criteria.

The most important long-term measure is to establish a fair game at the market, with equal rights for all, adding that the state must deal with the grey economy.

Secretary General of the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME) Andrea Benassi underlined that all states in Europe, including Serbia, should pay more attention to the SME sector.

Director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Local Development Sergio Arzeni stressed that Serbia is important for this organization and that the OECD will continue assisting it in terms of SME development.

Head of the European Integration Section at the EU Delegation to Serbia Freek Janmaat voiced his expectation that Serbia will begin EU accession talks next year.

Janmaat observed that the EU projected a €2.5 billion fund for SME development.

The Congress was organised by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Serbian Association of SMEs, with the support of the OECD Leed Partner Club and the UEAPME.


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