With the help of the Embassy of Italy in Belgrade, the Italy-Serbia Business Forum, organized by Confindustria Serbia, the most important association of Italian production and service companies, in cooperation with GreenHill Advisory from Rome, was held on Friday, May 17.
Opening the forum, Italian Ambassador to Serbia Carlo Lo Cascio invited Italian companies to invest in Serbia said that over 50% of foreign investments in the Balkans came to Serbia.
– Italy and Serbia have privileged economic relations. On our part, the biggest priority is to develop our relations with Belgrade, which has been confirmed, among other things, through the recent visit of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the record-setting trade, Italy's participation as the partner country at the International Agricultural Fair in Novi Sad and the constant arrival of new Italian investors. I am sure that you will find numerous opportunities for growth and development of your companies, thereby helping strengthen the economic role of Italy in this market – said Italian Ambassador Carlo Lo Cascio.
The ambassador also pointed out that the labor force in IT, but also in agriculture and manufacturing, was a strong incentive for investments in Serbia.
The president of Confindustria Serbia, Erich Cossutta, also talked about the sectors which were in the focus of the two-day forum.
– We are talking about sectors which make up a third of the country's GDP: the sector of digital technologies has a central position in the government's agenda, so it makes up 10% of the GDP today. On the other hand, the energy sector makes up 5% of the GDP, whereas the sector of infrastructure and transport is one of the most important sectors in Serbia, which is a transit country and a producer. This sector covers a significant share of the GDP, amounting to 15%, so it's a quite natural destination for investors looking for new horizons and opportunities for development, keeping in mind the potential synergy with the sector of digital technologies – Cossutta concluded.
The focus of this business forum, which hosted 30 companies from Italy, was to present the possibilities of cooperation between Italian and Serbian companies on projects in infrastructure, environmental protection, energy and information technologies, which were presented by representatives of the competent institutions, among them Ivan Karic, the state secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
The forum was also an opportunity to present potential new Italian investors with the opportunities for investments in Serbia, as well as opportunities for consolidation and expansion for the Italian companies which already operate in Serbia.
A day earlier, on May 16, a technical workshop was held, dedicated to the financing of the said projects through support programs of international financial institutions and pre-accession EU programs, where financial instruments were presented by representatives of the Ministry of European Integration, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investments Bank, the Development Agency of Serbia and the Development Agency of Vojvodina, the Innovation Fund and numerous other experts.
This two-day business gathering is another one of the cultural and business activities held as part of the celebration of 140 years of diplomatic relations between Serbia and Italy and 10 years of strategic partnership between the two countries.