Finance Minister Dusan Vujovic has decided that free zones are the most effective way to attract foreign investments. The Minister said that the companies that operate in the free zones in Serbia always show the best results.
At the press conference on free zones at the Chamber of Commerce, Dusan Vujovic said that there are twelve free zones in Serbia. Moreover, he said that in the last year 226 companies operated in these zones, 30% more than in the previous year.
Investors are interested in privatization
The Finance Minister of the Republic of Serbia said that he has received a large number of letters of interest from investors in relation to the privatization of public and state companies which are currently being reorganized. “Sixty percent of the letters that have arrived are credibile,” said Vujovic.
“In 2013, the free zones had a total turnover of 5 billion Euro, which represents an increase of 97%. The fact that the use of Serbian primary materials in production increased by 260% is especially significant,” emphasized Vujovic.
Last year, the export of products produced in the free zones increased by 143%, or 2.1 billion Euro. This represents one fifth of Serbia’s total exports.
The total value of products produced in the free zones increased by 170% and amounted to 2.4 billion Euro. Moreover, approximately 198 million Euro were invested. Last year, 18,313 workers were hired in the free zones, which represents a 25.6% increase with respect to 2012.
Economic Minister Zeljko Sertic highlighted the fact that companies that operate in the free zones must develop skills and respect the standards posed by the European Union in order to reach foreign markets more easily.
Sertic announced that in the future, conditions that are favorable for the opening of new businesses will be created and the problem of companies that are currently undergoing reorganization will be resolved.
Incentives for investors
The president of the World Federation of Free and Special Economic Zones (FEMOZA), Huan Torrents, stated that there are currently 1,800 free zones located in 126 countries worldwide. The most successful are located in Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Korea.
In the free zones, commercial, production, and logistical activities are carried out. Recently, healthcare services have been added to this list.
“Investors will be interested in working in the free zones due to the various incentives, such as exemption from customs fees, import duties, and taxes,” said Torrents, who was director of the free zone in Barcelona for thirty years. During this time, 40,000 new jobs were created.
The Serbian director of free zone administration, Milan Ristic, has determined that the results of operations in the free zones could be better given the investment climate in the region and the advantages available to investors in the free zones such as tax exemption.
“If our tax exemption proposal is accepted, this will provide a larger incentive for foreign investors to come,” said Ristic, who added that the Republic of Macedonia has implemented a tax exemption policy for its free zones.
Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce Mihajlo Vesovic said that the memorandum signed by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and FEMOZA will not only help Serbia with information exchange but will also help it present itself as a business-friendly country.
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