Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ICI) Organized a Serbia Country Day Event Online
Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ISO) organized a virtual event titled ‘Serbia Country Day & Trade and Investment Opportunities’, aiming at the assessment of the economic cooperation and investment opportunities in Serbia, an important country of the Balkans. Ms. Ivana Petrovic, Consulate of Serbia in Istanbul also participated in the event which was hosted by Yüksel Özyurt, the board member of ISO. Numerous businesspeople and industrialists intending to evaluate the business opportunities in Serbia and Balkans showed great interest in the event.
Mr. Yüksel Özyurt, the board member of ISO, made a speech at the opening of the event, stating that his country had well-established historical and cultural ties with Serbia. “We regard Serbia as a neighbouring country despite the fact that the two countries have no common borders. We celebrated the 140th anniversary of our relations in 2019 and we want to strengthen these relations even further in all areas” said Özyurt.
Mr. Özyurt told that Turkey has well-established geographical and historical ties with the Balkans dating back to the Ottoman era. He pointed out that Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is the most important capital in the Balkans. “Belgrade has the same meaning for the Balkan region as Istanbul has for Turkey” said Özyurt. “In a region like Balkans which passed through long turbulent years in the past, both economically and politically, development of good relations with Serbia would serve to the establishment of a lasting stability in the region.
“The stable environment of peace and confidence that has been established is also reflected in the national economy. A trade volume of approximately $1.6 billion was reached in 2019 between the two countries, being $1.2 billion worth of Turkish exports and $350 million worth of Turkish imports.”
“Despite the increase in trade volume on an annual basis, this was far from reflecting the true business potential between the two countries. The industrial products were reciprocally imported free of duty since 2015 based on the Treaty on Free Trade signed between the two countries in 2010. We must aim at increasing the said figures to even higher levels in a short time.
“Serbia is a key country for Turkey both in terms of bilateral economic relations and the transportation of Turkish products to European Union. Serbia is also in an advantageous position in terms of investment besides commerce. There are serious investment opportunities in the manufacturing industry, particularly automotive sub-industry and construction materials, contracting business and readymade garment merchandising. Approximately 800 Turkish companies are operating in Serbia today.”
Mr. Özyurt also emphasized that tourism is one of the most important industries with an opportunity of developing the relations between Turkey and Serbia. “The number of tourists coming to Turkey from Serbia increased by 53% and reached 250,000 in the recent years and added that over 100,000 Turkish tourists visited Serbia. I believe that these numbers would increase a lot when the pandemic was completely overcome all over the World.”
Mr. Özyurt further stated that Turkey provided full support for the freeway project that would connect Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia to each other, expressing his hope that this project would fulfil a significant role in sustaining a lasting peace and stability in the Balkans and make significant contributions to bringing the two nations closer and strengthen the cooperation between them.
The Serbian Consul in Istanbul, Ms. Ivana Petrovic pointed out the recent positive progress in the relations between the two countries. “The relations between the two countries progressed quite positively in the recent years and more than 700 Turkish companies made investments in Serbia” she said. “There is sufficient potential to increase the trade volume which is currently over 1 billion dollars. Turkish companies in Serbia are also active in sectors like textile and food stuff, besides infrastructural projects. Serbia offers an efficient investment environment and particular advantages with the means of access to the European market, its special relations with Russia and free trade deals that it made with countries, including Turkey. Factors such as qualified labour force, competitive costs, free access to 1.3 billion consumers, political and economic stability, financial incentives, advantageous geographical location are significant factors making Serbia an attractive country for Investment”.
The event was followed by a presentation titled “Trade, Cooperation and Investment Opportunities in Serbia” made by Gülçinay Mumcu, the Commercial Counsellor of the Ministry of Trade in Belgrade. Ms. Mumcu made the following statement: “Serbia has a population of 7 million with a low inflation rate of 1.3%, but the country has a high inflation rate of 10% with the unemployment rate of young population approaching 30%. Serbia started membership negotiations with the European Union in 2014 and has a Customs Union treaty with the European Union. Germany, Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina have the biggest share in the exports of Serbia whereas Germany, China and Italy have the biggest share in the imports of the country and the free-trade deal signed with Turkey in 2010 was expanded to include the agricultural products in 2018. Holland, Austria and Russia are the countries with the highest amount of investments in this country.”
After this presentation, she took part as the moderator in the panel titled ‘The Experiences of Companies Doing Business in Serbia’. Mr. Bayram Akgül, President of DEİK Turkish & Serbian Business Council, Mr. Murat Çağlar, General Manager of Taypa D.O.O., and Mr Kerem Söylemez, General Manager of Söylemez Kauçuk Otomotiv San. Tic. Ltd. Şti shared their experiences in the Serbian market with the audience.
Panellists answered the questions asked by the audience after the panel.