EU Support to Make Serbian Companies More Competitive
Belgrade, November 15, 2011
The European Union has, through its project Support to Enterprise Competitiveness and Export Promotion (SECEP), organised the final Meet the Buyer event in Belgrade as practical support to Serbian companies to enter global supply chains. More than 20 foreign companies, including multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Ball Packaging, Schneider Electric, Dehlaize, interested in making contacts with Serbian suppliers will be represented at this event.
With this final event, SECEP, an EU funded project of a total budget of €3.5 million, is nearing its end. The project is supported by the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, SIEPA, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and National Agency for Regional Development. SECEP’s overall objective is to improve the international competitiveness and export performance of SMEs in Serbia by supporting the development of a market economy and socio-economic cohesion in the country.
A key component of the project was to develop a supplier development programme. Meet the buyer events especially are a unique opportunity to support the development of Serbian suppliers. Starting with the first in May 2010, the SECEP project has organised 4 "Meet the Buyer" events, with two in Belgrade and Kragujevac respectively. The first three events provided opportunities for over 300 local companies to meet international buyers in person, to see their purchasing requirements and to begin the process leading to business negotiations. Through these events, Serbian SMEs have a better understanding of meeting supply requirements of multinational corporations by meeting face to face with prospective buyers.
In addition, the project has conducted a series of individual in company assessments and business improvement projects. It has provided consultant support and organised workshops tailored to the specific needs of more than 80 Serbian SMEs engaged in SECEP's supplier development programme. 50 of these have received intensive support to enhance management and production skills to improve their position in the supply chains.
The other key component of the project was to build and develop business clusters to help companies become more competitive and promote exports. The SECEP project targeted as six prioritised clusters in the following sectors: Information Technology, Furniture, Mechatronics, Fashion & Apparel, Automotive, and Knowledge Intensive Services for Agriculture. Clusters have established n linkage with CEFTA and EU business networks, which will improved their ability to network outside of Serbia.
The EU remains committed in supporting Serbian businesses and especially SMEs in boosting their competitiveness on national and international markets, as part of the overall goal to help Serbia develop a strong market economy. So far, the EU has invested close to €60 million for projects related to Serbian SMEs (including €20 million in direct credit lines). At the moment, tree EU funded projects (with total value of €14.4 million) with focus on new financial instruments and institutional support to innovation and competitiveness of the SMEs are ongoing.