The Development Agency of Serbia (RAS) is the government organization dealing with investment promotion and implementation of investment projects, export promotion, and giving diverse types of support to the companies in Serbia, especially helping the growth of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In other words, RAS is dedicated to building a strong, sustainable, and modern economy in the Republic of Serbia, by promoting investment potentials, as well as giving support to export and fostering the competitiveness of the market. Our vision is Serbia to become a technologically updated, modern industrial and business hub of Europe and the rest of the world. With a unique set of support programs tailored for micro, small and medium enterprises & entrepreneurs, and support provision to domestic and foreign investors seeking to set up or expand their business in Serbia, RAS strives to raise Serbia`s position and competitiveness in the region and globally. Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the organization? Development Agency of Serbia (RAS): Development Agency of Serbia has a portfolio of activities that include investment promotion and implementation of the investment project from the phase 1, negotiating and consulting the investors, until the last phase where the project is already implemented and business in Serbia has started, and years later, we offer aftercare services to the businesses present in the Republic of Serbia. Furthermore, one of our main activities includes creating programs tailored to help small and medium-sized entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs (SME) grow and develop. This is an extremely important segment of our work, as we tend to improve the strength of the Serbian economy and to make our market more competitive on a global scale. Besides that, the Development Agency of Serbia is targeting industry sectors that have the potential to grow, and for them creates programs and activities which might help further development. The idea is to help companies transform their capacities faster and to allow them to become more competitive, not only on a national scale but also on the international market. The Supplier Development Program is just one of the examples of how the Development Agency of Serbia makes an effort to help companies improve their business performances and create new business connections. Hopefully, companies will later have a chance to become a local supplier for some multinational company present in Serbia. Besides, RAS is strategically approaching the export promotion of the country and its companies, and for years now, through programs dedicated to broadening the export possibilities, we are influencing the export growth. SIEMENS Factory in Subotica E.E: What’s the news for 2020 about new directions? RAS: This 2020 so far has been a year full of unexpected situations, especially when it comes to the world of business and economy in general. First of all, companies all over the world are dealing with the liquidity challenge. After that, there is the impossibility to plan business steps with the same certainty as before the pandemic of virus Covid-19. The Government of the Republic of Serbia has created and implemented several measures to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on the companies and doing business. Those measures have helped companies in Serbia to maintain their work and production, to remain liquid, and most importantly measures prevent the layoffs. Following that idea of the strategical approach to reducing negative effects of Covid-19 RAS is also focusing its programs and future activities in the same direction – for now, analysing and planning new programs with a strong commitment to the activities which will help companies to overcome present challenges. This is very important having in mind that the economy will experience the consequences of this pandemic in the months to come, at least. Besides that, the Agency’s goals remain the same – giving the support to companies in Serbia and attracting more foreign direct investment projects which will bring new technologies, new trends in Serbia, and of course, new jobs. Previous year we had extraordinary results when it comes to FDI level. We are proud to announce that in 2019 Serbia reached 3.8 billion euros worth FDI in total. We hope that 2020 will be even better than that. ZF Friedrichshafen Opening Ceremony 2019 E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? RAS: In general, regarding the economy and industry, from our point of view, it is visible the willingness of the big multinational companies and manufacturers to create a more predictable system of working and producing. It refers mostly to the reorganization of the supply chains, where many companies from Europe or with headquarters somewhere in Europe, have the key suppliers in distant locations, such as China. The current global situation demonstrated difficulties in logistics and transportation for those who have headquarters far from the suppliers, which led to the consideration of the idea of relocating suppliers to the closer place. Besides that, it is not only about the logistics, but also about the cost-benefit calculation, which gives advantages to the locations closer to Europe, for sure. Likewise, businesses are carefully opting for the new investment destinations, taking care of every single factor, but definitely, the logistics and competitive operating costs are in the spotlight. E.E: What estimations do you have for 2020? RAS: When it comes to the investment projects, and in particular within the context of Serbia, we expect to have a successful year, as none of the investment projects has been cancelled and investors show great interest in this region of Western Balkans without a doubt. As mentioned before, we had the record results in the last two years, in 2008 € 3.5 billion, and 2019 €3.8 billion of FDI. Moreover, the projects from those two years intend to create more than 20.000 new jobs. Following the dynamic of the first half of 2020, we are hoping to surpass the last two years when it comes to the total value of FDI and to implement several high-tech projects here in Serbia. High-tech projects are important for a country, because of the transfer of technology and knowledge, but also because we have highly qualified engineers and skilled workforce with a technical knowledge background. In sum, 2020 is and will be a challenging year when it comes to doing business, operating in the different industries and sectors. Precisely that is the place for governments and all relevant organizations to step up, give support to the businesses, and preserve the business environment climate as favorable as possible – as the Development Agency of Serbia does and aims to do in the future.