Emir Sabic, Trade Advisor at UK Trade & Investment, gives advice on doing business in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The interview was published by BusinessWeekly.co.uk, UK’s renown financial news web-portal.
1) What would be your advice to UK businesses looking to do business in your market for the first time?
Bosnia and Herzegovina offers rewards to well prepared and persistent exporters. Companies exporting for the first time to this market should look for a well established local partner. Sales support and after sales service are crucial.
2) Why is now a good time for UK firms to be looking to do business in your market?
Since the end of the 1992-95 war Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken strides towards establishing a functioning market economy and making progress towards EU integration. In June 2008 Stabilisation and Accession Agreement with the EU was signed and has granted Bosnia and Herzegovina the status of a potential candidate for EU membership. Despite the global economic downturn, the reformed banking sector is performing well as it is underpinned by a stable currency board arrangement that fixes the local currency to the Euro. The country benefits from continued support of the EU and other international financial organisations. Through EU-funded Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) over Euro 289.3 million has been allocated for the period 2009-2011. IPA II programme is yet to be defined and approved. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a transitional economy with strong import needs. It seeks to take advantage of its skilled workforce and comparatively low wages proximity to European markets and emerging free trade status with the EU.
3) What are the key opportunities for UK companies looking to approach your markets?
Significant opportunities exist in areas of aid-funded business and major capital investments, often backed by international lenders such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank and the World Bank. The 330 km of country’s motorway in Corridor Vc is earmarked as the top priority project. The project is valued at Euro 3.5 billion. The upgrade of mining operations has attracted an investment of more than Euro 60 million with Euro 30 million to follow in 2014 and 2015. Announced construction and upgrade of hydro plants, thermal power plants and electrical power distribution projects will include investment valued at more than EUR 1 billion. There are also niche opportunities in sectors such as education, security, healthcare and food & drink.
4) For companies coming to explore your market what sort of support can you offer to help them develop their exports in your market?
UKTI helps UK companies understand how to do business in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of our major priorities is to identify the upcoming projects/business opportunities. We help companies to gain access to contacts and partners as well as information that are not available elsewhere. We give advice and practical support to build their confidence to explore or expand in this market.