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BiH is the most exciting destination to visit, but also the best address for foreign investors

Held panels “Perspectives of Nearshoring” and “The power of tourism for economic development”
BiH is the most exciting destination to visit, but also the best address for foreign investors

The second day of the International Investment Conference 11. Sarajevo Business Forum brought new opportunities to regional businessmen, and it was opened by Chris Barton, the United Kingdom (UK) Trade Commissioner for Europe, who said that the whole world is focused on starting new investments, economic recovery and raising economic standard.

“We strive to connect with neighbors and partners, and to provide a higher level of security. Our goal is to have prosperous societies and reliable partners. Our government strongly supports investments in this region. We are committed to new investments in the countries of the region and  our government has expert teams throughout the region providing information on investment and trade exchanges. I invite my colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to sign a free trade agreement, so that together with the other countries of the Western Balkans, they can take advantage of these business opportunities,” said Barton.

“We strive to connect with neighbors and partners, and to provide a higher level of security. Our goal is to have prosperous societies and reliable partners. Our government strongly supports investments in this region. We are committed to new investments in the countries of the region and  our government has expert teams throughout the region providing information on investment and trade exchanges. I invite my colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to sign a free trade agreement, so that together with the other countries of the Western Balkans, they can take advantage of these business opportunities,” said Barton.

The potential of “nearshoring” in the countries of the Western Balkans was presented in a study by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies. Sophia Kluge, coordinator of the Western Balkan Chamber Partnership, said in her presentation that nearshoring is the driving force after the pandemic.

“There is a growing trend of allocating companies from Germany. German investors choose the countries of the Western Balkans as the countries where they allocated their production. The advantages that stand out are geographical location, low labor costs and an educated workforce. Some investors have cited cultural similarities and people-to-people connections as advantages in their investment decisions. In addition, the region offers low taxes, which, along with labor costs, are the main drivers for investment,” said Kluge.

In the “European nearshoring experience” panel, the participants presented their own experiences, and the advantages of investing and relocating production to the countries of the Western Balkans were defined. Bosnia and Herzegovina has prepared a study of the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the pandemic, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries of the Western Balkans are recognized as a good opportunity for the reallocation of industrial production.

Amra Šurković, director of AHK BiH, presented the experiences of German companies during and after the pandemic. “The interest of German companies is great, especially for the metal and wood industry sector and the energy sector. The metal industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded 30% of exports in 2021, and most was exported to the German market,” Šurković pointed out.

Martin Gaber, director of the “Germany Trade & Invest” (GTAI) office for the Western Balkans, presented the experiences of companies from Germany that want to invest in foreign markets or achieve trade exchange to give priority when choosing countries to geographical proximity and cultural and social similarities. Adnan Smailbegović, president of the FBiH Employers’ Association, pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina has highly qualified workers, but that it is important for investors to prepare and establish a work system in production. He also said that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs the process of “nearshoring”, but it also needs the support of the government through various reforms that will facilitate administration, improve the education system, and influence the increase in wages for workers.

Snježana Köpruner, general director and majority owner of GS-TMT d.o.o. and Paul Cronin, CEO of Adriatic Metals (AM) are investors who recognized and invested in the potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I believe that BiH is the best address for foreign investors. “BiH is close to Europe, and the people have knowledge and experience that provide the possibility of reallocating production to foreign companies,” said Kopruner.

The panel was followed by the presentation “Case study – Porte Montenegro” by the CEO of Porte Montenegro, David Margason. Boka Place is a new urban neighborhood in Porto Montenegro that was presented at this year’s Sarajevo Business Forum, and is based on wellness values and a healthy way of urban life. A combination of attractive shops and cafes, fitness hotel SIRO (Kerzner International) wellness center with large oases of green areas make this area unique.

On the second day of the 11th Sarajevo Business Forum, in cooperation with USAID’s Sustainable Tourism Development Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the panel “The Power of Tourism in Stimulating Economic Growth” was organized. At a time when BiH is experiencing an increase in the number of visits and an increased need for accommodation facilities, the panelists talked about the best international practices and considered local initiatives for starting investments in tourism, growth and development, and industry in BiH with the aim of positioning the country as a globally competitive tourist destination.

David Goodger, director of the Tourism Economics company, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina attracts a large number of tourists, among them tourists from China and Saudi Arabia, and that in the next three-year period, vacation trips will dominate compared to business trips. Anita Mendiratta, founder and president of the company Anita Mendiratta & Associates, said that in the future, investors will focus on the concept of sustainable tourism, which brings numerous advantages, and that investors want to simplify administration and regulation.

Alan Elliott Merschen, head of Myriad Marketing and Miloš Milovanović, head of analysis and research at GainingEdge emphasized the importance of regional cooperation when it comes to the tourism sector. The panelists also talked about the importance of destination branding, which is important not only for the tourism sector but also for other branches of the industry. During the session, it was pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina has an opportunity for growth and new investments in this sector, but that it is necessary to invest in staff education.

“It is necessary to keep the workforce that goes to other countries. Bosnia and Herzegovina has the potential to establish a “hub” for the education of the workforce in the tourism sector,” stressed Dr. Joseph Ruddy, expert in quality assurance and human capital development.

The panelists at the session talked about Bosnia and Herzegovina as the most exciting destination to visit and invest in. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing branches of the economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the pandemic, and recovery can already be felt after the pandemic. When it comes to halal tourism Dr. Mohmed Razip Hasan, general director of the Islamic Tourist Center from the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism, highlighted the significant potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s industry in the field of halal tourism. The president of “Malaysia Airports Berhad” Zambry Abd Kadir emphasized the importance of air traffic and connecting the countries of Southeast Europe with Malaysia and the possibilities of improving the tourist offer.

Jawad Al Hawaj, a member of the Executive Board of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that a large number of businessmen from Bahrain are attending the Sarajevo Business Forum today. “We believe that there are great opportunities ahead of us to establish a strong and steady relationship between Bahrain and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we are here to support business ties in all sectors. Tourism is one of the most important factors, especially in a country like Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is surrounded by mountains, rivers and greenery,” said Al Hawaj.12

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