Today, in Sarajevo, the 11th Sarajevo Business Forum has started attracting around 1.500 local, regional and international government and ministry representatives, as well as business entities from nearly 40 countries around the world. This year, a record number of projects was submitted. During the two-day business-investment conference, along with panels and roundtables, more than 300 project presentations and B2B meetings will be held. Central theme of this year’s Forum is “Nearshoring – perspective for the region”, in other words, the possibility of reallocating production capacities of the European companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries of the region.
The Forum was opened by the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, and the CEO of Bosna Bank International, Alek Bakalović.
The member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, has expressed the need for political and business cooperation of the countries in the region.
“The entire region has to overcome the irrational political aspirations of destabilization and turn towards the future. The only path that imposes itself is the one of regional cooperation, in order to reach the road to the European Union. I believe that this region can be a bridge between the big markets of Europe and Asia. On the shared regional market, we already have common institutions. I invite the investors to, together with the institutions, participate in the energy transition. I want to thank the organizers for the opportunities and I wish everyone successful work, a lot of new ideas and concrete businesses.”, said Komšić during his introductory speech.
During his welcome speech, Alek Bakalović, CEO of BBI, pointed out that local businesses need the know-how and the access to foreign markets.
“One of the possibilities that we have identified as an opportunity is the concept of “Nearshoring”. For the major investors we are as an investment destination, interesting exclusively as a region, because the individual countries are too small to be considered as separate markets. Therefore, economic connectivity remains the most effective solution for our region. We need to use the Sarajevo Business Forum to learn from each other and explore opportunities for joint projects, which we could use to attract additional investment. Our goal is for SBF to be the source of new projects and new political and business relations that will allow this. I call on all participants to be united in the same goal - strengthening co-operation and exploiting the comparative advantages of each country for a better future in Southeast Europe.", Bakalović said.
The Ministry of Economy of the Sarajevo Canton is this year's Strategic partner of the 11th Sarajevo Business Forum. Minister of Economy of Canton Sarajevo Adnan Delić noted that SBF has established itself in the regional and world business community as the largest and most important business and investment forum in Southeast Europe.
“We are aware that the long-term and further growth and development of the Canton Sarajevo and the county of Bosnia and Herzegovina requires a healthy and strong economy based on the production and development of entrepreneurship, attracting investment, as well as establishing and strengthening public-private-partnerships (PPP). On these foundations, we want to build an economy that will be an example of a healthy and strong economy in our region.” minister Delić added.
In his opening address, the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor addressed the attendees, who once again stressed the essence of joint co-operation between Southeast European countries.
“It is good to discuss business opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is a proven successful forum for discussion on investment, and co-operation in the region. The condition for the western Balkans' boom is economic stability, and it is up to political leaders to organise the country constructively and create investment opportunities. I am convinced that the European Union is the answer to all the questions we have in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in other countries of Western Balkans. EU offers stability and security. I believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be granted candidate status without preconditions, and after that Bosnian and Herzegovinian authorities meet all 14 preconditions for EU accession. There is a lot of work ahead, but this is doable and realistic, and there is political will in Brussels. I know this is a brave move, and it comes out of the framework of a settled dynamic, but this is my call to the EU and the leaders of this country.”, said Slovenia President Borut Pahor.
Mehmet Muş, Minister of trade of the Republic of Turkiye, emphasized the importance of the concept of “nearshoring” for the Balkans and placed emphasis on the regional partner of the countries of the region, as the Balkans are close to both the West, as well as Asia and the Middle East countries.
“Despite the two-year break, it is satisfactory to see that Sarajevo Business Forum continues. We are proud that the Forum has become a major business event that allows us to expand business networks in the countries of the region. With the pandemic, large multinational companies whose production is located offshore face major challenges, and the delivery chain has faced major problems. Nearshoring will allow the transfer of production to geographically closer countries with the aim of reducing delivery and transport costs. Balkan countries are close to the EU and have incomparably lower production costs and can take precedence in this context. The Balkans will be one of the regions that will benefit the most from rebuilding business ties around the world.” Minister Muş said.
EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler, said that the Sarajevo Business Forum was a bridge of business partners in recent years and that an economic recovery followed after the pandemic.
“The nature of the country itself and the potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as all its pristine beauties, continue to attract investors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The wood, metal and food sectors can offer a lot when it comes to the concept of “nearshoring”. The EU is responsible for all matters of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, and we need to think about how to take this opportunity, despite the disagreements and problems facing this country.” said the Head of the European Union Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler.
Senior Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Development of the Entrepreneurship of the State of Malacca of Malaysia Rauf bin Yusof highlighted the satisfaction with the opportunities provided by the SBF and the possibilities of co-operation.
It is a pleasure to be here and stand in front of all delegates and strategic partners who believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very successful future and rapid recovery after the pandemic. This conference was marked as the largest business investment conference in Southeast Europe. I am exploring opportunities in this region that are attractive and provide business co-operation.”, bin Yusoh said.
Croatian Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Davor Filipović said that in times of economic crisis it is the common duty of the countries of the region to find a solution and to strengthen economic ties in the region, and that Sarajevo Business Forum is the conference that allows this.
“The economic prosperity of the Western Balkans is one of the key preconditions for the economic prosperity of the region. As a neighbour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia is traditionally an important partner in trade. B&H is Croatia's sixth largest trading partner and Croatia is the second most important investor in B&H, after Austria and Bosnia’s number one trading partner. We are committed to the prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Filipović said.
Minister of Development, Entrepreneurship and Crafts of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Amir Zukić addressed on behalf of the Federation of B&H Government and said concrete projects would be implemented through business co-operation and investment, which is also the purpose of the event. This will also result in a more stable business environment that will allow new foreign investment to be attracted.
As the leading investment conference in this region, Sarajevo Business Forum attracts a large number of investors every year, and is an excellent platform for representing businesses from neighbouring countries. In addition to finding investors, Bosna Bank International (BBI) aims to connect entrepreneurs from Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Forum with investors and business from the region and the world, promoting new business projects and ideas that will ultimately lead to the development of the economy.