Opening remarks by Mr. Amer Bukvic, CEO, Bosna Bank International

Mr. President, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Your Excellencies, Ministers, Government Representatives, Ambassadors, Distinguished guests, Business Representatives, Media Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen Welcome to Sarajevo Business Forum. This is our Forum’s 9th consecutive year, and we could not be more proud to have so many respected guests here.

The success and consistency of SBF depends on the patronage of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this year represented by H.E. Mr. Bakir Izetbegović, Chairman of the Presidency of B&H. Your Excellency, the Presidency’s support is deeply valued, and I thank you personally and on behalf of the organizers.

SBF is unrecognizable without the support of BBI’s shareholders the Islamic Development Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank. Their support and guidance continues to be much appreciated.

H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group, has continued IDB’s impressive results and a long tradition of supporting SBF; we thank him for visiting us this year as well. Dr. Hajjar, you are always welcome in Sarajevo.

There are many new and old faces who we must also recognize and welcome:

International PARTICIPANTS
• H.E. Mr.BorutPahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, who will be giving a special presentation
• H.E. Mehmet Şimşek, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, who we are also pleased to see again
• H.E. Eng. Ibrahim Al Omar, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority
• H.E. Sofyan A. Djalil, Minister of Land and Spatial Planning, Republic of Indonesia
• H.E. LahcenDaoudi, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of General Affairs and Governance, Marocco
• Mr. Marc Dillard, Director of Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy, U.S. State Department Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, United States of America
• Ahmed Omar Maiteeq, Vice-President of the Presidency of the Government of National Accord of the State Libya
• Mr. Valdis Zatlers, Former President of Latvia
• Hon Dr. Doris Pack, President of European Political Party Women and former President of the Delegation for SEE, European Parliament
• H.E. Shaikha Mariam Bint Hamad Al Khalifa, Vice President, Bahrain Businesswomen Society, Kingdom of Bahrain

• H.E. Dr. Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia & Herzegovina, a longtime friend of the Forum
• H.E. Rasim Ljajić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister, Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Republic of Serbia, who is also an honored keynote speaker today
• H.E. Mirko Šarović, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovinaand Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of BIH, an honored guest
• H.E. Vjekoslav Bevanda, Minister of Finance and Treasury of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of BIH, who we hope to see more of in the coming years
• H.E. Semiha Borovac, Minister of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a much-needed voice this year
• H.E. Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Slovenia, who brings us an much-anticipated perspective
• H.E. Mr. Stjepan Mesić, Former President of the Republic of Croatia, who has also supported us for many years

We have many other international government representatives and business participants from more than 50 countries all over the globe, including Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Yemen.

Of course, Sarajevo Business Forum is a regional one, and I am honored by the continued support of distinguished government officials and business representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. We share a vision that this region can accomplish so much together.
BiH government public-private-partnership
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions are a key to attracting new investments and business deals. This Forum is a testament to the power of public-private cooperation, and we applaud the steadfast support of these institutions.

To all our supporters: Truly. Sincerely. Thank you. We hope to see you in Sarajevo for years to come.
Sarajevo Gateway to Region / RCC

Your Excellencies,
I am very glad that Sarajevo Business Forum has developed itself into the gateway for foreign direct investments to South East Europe. We are glad to contribute to fostering regional integration together with Regional Cooperation Council, an institution supported by the European Commission.
I am encouraged to see continued improvement in most macroeconomic indicators of the region, especially in the long-term. FDI has improved significantly in countries of the region. Unemployment rates continue to fall. Events like SBF, which promote the region as a unique investment destination and create a platform for starting new businesses, can reverse the effects of brain drain to economy. Southeast Europe possesses all the prerequisites and talents to generate growth - if energies are focused on mutual cooperation and maintaining stability.

Exports of goods and services from the region are growing faster than imports, resulting in a declining trade deficit. Consider the year 2010, when this conference was established. The coverage of imports by exports in BiH amounted to 44%. In 2017, this figure was 60%.These trends are similar to other countries.Being close to EU opens huge possibilities for companies from SEE to be part of supply chain for big EU producers.

There are other promising trends. The number of registered foreign tourist stays in Bosnia tripled since Sarajevo Business Forum was first time organized. The average annual growth of foreign tourist stays in the country was 14% in the past eight years. This remarkable statistic elevates Bosnia into one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations. Other Southeast European countries have experienced similar results.

We strongly believe that, through joint efforts, we can achieve similar result in other industries as well. Whole SEE region has a huge potential for organic food production. Also, you will see tomorrow on one of the panels how BH companies succeeded to become an important player in the global IT market by working together.

This year we go further with exploring Dubai as a model for economic development of SEE countries. We are happy to explore possibilities of cooperation of SEE and Asian countries. For Middle East and Asia, South-East Europe is not only a market but more a partner in reaching new markets across Europe. Your door to the EU marketis here.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Leadership indeed has a significant impact on the performance across all levels within any organization. Any organization or country aspiring to meet its full potential cannot afford managerial shortcomings or lack of vision. Today on our session on Women’s Leadership we want to encourage women to get more involved in leadership roles because women are evidently an important factor for positive changes in any society.

Economic prosperity is a prerequisite for political stability, and this makes SBF’s impact on Southeast Europe’s future even stronger. Results of past Forums have been investments in tourism, agriculture and industry in the region and established increasingly-frequent flights between the region and the Middle East and Asia. A plan to reestablish direct flights among regional airports could build on these successes.

It is important to note that the GDP growth projections of Southeast Europe are stable and are expected to be above the EU’s average growth rate. This is another reason why investing in the region is worthwhile.

I invite all participants to unite in the same goal of strengthening cooperation and benefitting from the comparative advantages of each country for the sake of a better future in Southeast Europe and the world.

Dear friends, excellencies, guests, business representatives, andmembers of the media, I am humbled by this gathering in Sarajevo, now in itsninth consecutiveyear, with more than 1.800 registered participants and 360 accredited journalists from around the globe.

Together we can strengthen this region, create success for our international partners,and give the next generation an opportunity to build a better and brighter future.

With that,I wish you all a pleasant stay. May you findmany fruitful investment opportunities and cultivate long term business relationships.

Thank you.