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About current events related to the economy of the Republika Srpska, we talked with the Minister of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation, Zlatan Klokic.
Considering the nature of the Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation, how much has been done on creating more attractive business ambient when it comes to foreign investment in Republika Srpska, from the beginning of mandate?
Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation is responsible for some key areas which influence business environment. I would like to emphasize coordination activities on attracting foreign investments in Republika Srpska (this also includes working on better conditions for investments and help for the potential investors and promotion of Srpska’s potentials abroad), and also activities which imply development of the business ambient such as impact assessment regulations, register approval in the economy, etc. As one of the important activities of the Ministry, I would point out The strategy of stimulating foreign investment in Republika Srpska 2005 – 2020, with following Action plan. Draft version of this Action plan was adopted by National Assembly recently. In 2015 we realized fully assessment of the impact of legislation on bankruptcy law which became a solid base for a new Bankruptcy law of Republika Srpska, which was adopted in February 2016. At this moment we are having assessment activities on The Law on the Agency for Intermediary, IT and financial services.
Ministry is also implementing activities through The Program post investment support to investors, which includes 21 municipalities, and which includes institutional cooperation of the entity and local municipalities. Through the visits to companies in particular, we identify problems and initiatives on local level. One of the most important regional projects is certification of municipalities with the favorably business environment in Republika Srpska, which is implemented through the national coordination network which consists of The Ministry of Administration and Local Self-Government, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Republika Srpska, Association of municipalities and cities and Development Agency EDA. The Council for Foreign Investments of the Republika Srpska was formed to facilitate business investors.
Which activities on the promotion of the economic environment and potentials of Republika Srpska have been implemented recently?
Promotional activities were supported through the projects of the international organizations, as well with the capacities of the Ministry and Representative Offices of Republika Srpska abroad. Systematical improvements have been done through:
- – Web site investsrpska.net, which has been created, on Serbian/English languages, which is intended for foreign investors, and posses information on procedures, legislation, expenses, operating costs, institutions etc.
- – Investment offer of local municipalities and responsible ministries has been gathered and it has been regularly updated and forwarded to Representative Offices of Republika Srpska abroad. It is also used during the visits of foreign delegations.
- – Meetings with the investing character were organized in the country and abroad. The most successful results were shown on conference ”Investment opportunities in metal sector, tourism, energy and food processing”, with 420 participants from 20 countries, participation in international fair in Munich EXPO REAL, etc.
- – Media materials on investment possibilities in Republika Srpska are regularly prepared, and published abroad through the Representative Offices.
Considering the fact that Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation participates in creation of the international agreements on economic relations, can you highlight some of them, which public in Republika Srpska may not be sufficiently familiar with?
If we take a look at the structure of the concluded agreements through the countries, the largest number is with the subjects in Serbia, in accordance with the Agreement on Special Parallel Relations between Republika Srpska and Serbia. Cooperation with Serbia stays high priority of the Government of Republika Srpska, in areas of economy with the goal of realization trans-boundary regional projects, but also in other areas. This also has been established in Economic policy for the current year. Cooperation is implemented in economic area (industry, agriculture, traffic etc.), finance, regional development, law, security, public administration and local self-government, education, culture, social security, health, work relations, construction and urbanism, etc.
Representative Offices of Republika Srpska abroad are also significant factor in improving institutional and regional cooperation. They have important role in developing cooperation with the partner regions and other relevant subjects in countries of its headquarters.
Establishment and development regional and cross-boundary cooperation is of great importance for the development and affirmation of Republika Srpska, and from the aspect of EU integration, as well.
In your opinion, what could contribute to a better economy image of Republika Srpska, so that foreign investors could express more interest?
Answer to this question is very complex, and it is located in above mentioned Strategy and Action plan, where you can find general framework for attraction of foreign investments. That framework is directed to three key goals. Those goals are: improving competitiveness and the advancement of the business environment, institutional capacity building and development of partnerships as well as promotion of aimed sectors and markets. That means that we will, in accordance with Government of Republika Srpska, improve actions in several segments, from electronic registration of economy enterprises and conditions for issuance of building permits and property registrations, to infrastructure quality, employment and inventions. Building institutional capacities for acceptance and attraction of foreign investments is highly important and we will insist on it, because it provides direct support to foreign investors from beginning to the end of process that is made out of different administrative obstacles and procedures. Improving cooperation between republic and local level of governance is also one of priorities, as well as communication with BH institutions in a process of exchanging information (especially regarding VAT, import-export procedures, customs etc.).
From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges that economy of Republika Srpska is facing, regarding regional and international issues?
As you already know, you have to count on current situation in region and whole world in general, because it has it’s manifestation on our economy also. This is confirmed by the trends in foreign investments. Last year’s Report about foreign investments that is published by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said that level of foreign investments in the world had bigger fall than it was expected to be. On the global level by 16% comparing it to 2013 (8 percent was expected decrease).
Changes on the global and regional plan, economic and political turbulences and events generated insecurity. We are witnesses of complex political-economic situation in the world and in the region, for example refugee crisis, price of oil, issues regarding Ukraine, sanctions to Russia, instability of financial markets, 2014. floods that hit this region, recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels etc. Surveys that were conducted by international corporations about plans of investments in the world, as well as prognosis showed that we have to expect further decline of investments. In accordance with these facts, it is necessary to track and analyze future events and make plans and activities that could improve RS situations on the global level.
The Srpska Times