Source: eKapija | Tuesday, 12.12.2017.| 09:48
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Nikola Zezelj, Director of Vojvodina Development Agency – We expect even bigger incentives for investors in 2018

Nikola Zezelj
Nikola Zezelj
The year 2017 has been marked by big investments in Vojvodina. Several new foreign investors, such as Italy's Zoppas, Belgium's Ravago Chemical, Nepal's CG Foods Europe, Croatia's Kostel Automotive and Germany's Continental Serbia and Phoenix, joined the ranks of important local investors.

This year, Vojvodina also got the Vojvodina Development Agency (RAV), whose main task is to stimulate the inflow of foreign and local investments and to support investors. RAV was formed in February, under the aegis of the Provincial Government and as a legal successor to the VIP Fund, and Nikola Zezelj was appointed director in September by the Government's decision.

The agency is in charge of following and finding all available finances from international funds and coordinating the issuing of subsidies in Vojvodina. They also provide support to local self-governments and business incubators in Vojvodina, as well as support to local export, through aiding local companies looking to join the supply chains of big companies.

In his interview for eKapija, the director of RAV comments on the activities carried out so far, reminds us of some of the most important investments realized recently and announces that RAV will start preparing research and analyses based on which a proposition of a set of measures for a further development of Vojvodina will be prepared.

eKapija: The year 2017 is drawing to an end. What are the most important projects realized in the first year of the Vojvodina Development Agency's official operations?

– The Vojvodina Development Agency was founded several months ago, and its very establishment was a big and responsible project.

First of all, we took part in the preparation of the Provincial Decree on the terms and the manner of allocation of budget funds.

When it comes to investment projects, I'd like to highlight the project of the German company Continental and their research and development center in Novi Sad, and the project of the Italian company Caminada, with which the VIP Fund made the first contact back in 2014, and which has become Ametek's supplier and arrived to Free Zone Subotica.

There's also the new company La Linea Verde, Italian leader in the field of growing and processing fresh products and preparing fresh meals, which cooperates with big supermarket chains in the EU. The production center in Dobrinci will be their sixth factory and the first one in Serbia.

I should also mention our project related to the company Magnetica in Macvanska Mitrovica, which has been owned by the Swedish company AQ Group AB since April 2016 and which plans to expand its production, and which we are helping find a new hall. There's also the clothing manufacturer Pretty Group from Bangladesh, which has recently signed an agreement on the lease of two halls in Sombor, in which they will be producing knitted fabric. There's also the company Siliko and others.

One of the projects to be noted is the Suppliers' Day, recently held in Novi Sad.

eKapija: What are your impressions from the Suppliers' Day, and what are the impressions of the companies which took part in it?

– We are satisfied with how many companies appeared at the event, and the companies are satisfied with the results of the meetings. There were as many as 500 B2B meetings between representatives of 160 companies from 10 sectors and 24 states. Those looking for suppliers, such as Univerexport, Mecafor or Kolektor ATS, say that they have established good contacts. That was our main goal and we will continue organizing meetings between big companies looking for suppliers and SMEs looking to join their supply chains.

eKapija: What would your message to small local companies be as to how they can become suppliers?

– It's important for a company to know who to address. Several institutions have suppliers' pools, and I invite companies from Vojvodina to also apply and join out suppliers' pool, which is currently being prepared. Beginning next year, we will be organizing sector B2B meetings more frequently, which is certainly a good way to find a partner.

The job of institutions such as the Vojvodina Development Agency is to help them remain visible. However, the companies themselves need to be proactive, to apply for various events and to try to be as well informed as possible.

As many as 500 B2B meetings between representatives of 160 companies from ten sectors were held at the Suppliers' Day.
As many as 500 B2B meetings between representatives of 160 companies from ten sectors were held at the Suppliers' Day.
eKapija: How many foreign companies are currently active in Vojvodina? How many new ones are there that have started their operations this year?

– For now, around 340 foreign companies operate in Vojvodina, with total investments of around EUR 8.5 billion and with 70,650 employees. The biggest investor-countries are Germany, the USA, Italy, Slovenia, France and Belgium, and the leading sectors are agribusiness and the accompanying automotive industry. The companies which have started their operations this year are Italy's Zoppas (metal sector), Belgium's Ravago Chemicals and Nepal's CG Foods Europe (agribusiness), Croatia's Kostel Automotive and Continental Serbia in the accompanying automotive industry, Germany's Phoenix with a logistics center in Simanovci etc.

eKapija: Vojvodina is on the very border to the EU and foreign companies accordingly find it profitable to distribute products in the region, having quick access to the global market. What other reasons are there to invest in the province?

– Vojvodina also has a good traffic network, a long industrial tradition with infrastructural inheritance, primarily facilities, a high percentage of qualified and highly qualified workforce, as well as strong technical faculties and science institutions. Of course, it shouldn't be forgotten that important steps towards creating optimal conditions for doing business and the inflow if investments have been taken in Vojvodina and the entire Serbia.

eKapija: Although the budget has not yet been adopted, could you tell us how much money for stimulating new investments in RAV do you expect in 2018?

– We've received information that the amounts allocated for incentives will exceed this year's funds of RSD 350 million. But, as you said, the next year's budget has not yet been adopted.

Ravago Chemicals invested EUR 5 million in the animal feed premix plant in Feketic
Ravago Chemicals invested EUR 5 million in the animal feed premix plant in Feketic
Sector analyses in 2018 as well

eKapija: One of the messages highlighted by RAV is “we shorten the time and the way from your investment idea to its realization”. What does this look like in practice?

– This means that we lead the interested company through the entire investment process: we find locations, provide help in negotiations with municipalities, private location owners and local companies, we inform them of tax, customs and other procedures, manners of obtaining permits and incentives and etc. Once the company arrives, we support it for as long as it operates in Vojvodina.

eKapija: What are RAV's plans for 2018?

– We will continue all our regular projects. In addition to promotional activities and efforts to attract foreign and local investments, the news is that eight towns in Vojvodina have signed the Agreement on cooperation for the purpose of joint presentations at international investment fair events with the Provincial Government and RAV and we will coordinate these activities. We will also organize seminars for local self-governments, suppliers' days, and we will also be preparing studies and sector analyses related to the economic development of Vojvodina.

eKapija: One of the questions discussed at the time RAV was founded was how the transparency of activities would be secured.

– The operations of RAV are supervised by its Assembly, consisting of members of the Provincial Government and RAV submits annual reports on its activities to the Assembly of Vojvodina and all accredited press members at the Assembly get a copy of this document.

M.M.
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