Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in Berlin on Monday that the fact that German companies are opening research and development centers in Serbia will help improve the country’s image as an investment destination.
“German companies in Serbia employ more than 60,000 people and are planning an expansion on our market. They are opening research and development centers in Serbia which we hope will create and market intellectual property in Serbia which will create a completely different image of it as a country and investment destiation, bringing higher salaries and pensions as well as living standards,” she told reporters after taking part in an economic forum organized by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Brnabic said that greater interest had been expressed at this year’s forum in Serbia’s digital transformation, and claimed that she won “high praise” for her government’s efforts, especially in the education system. “Serbia has been recognized as a leader, not in the Balkans but in Europe, perhaps not based on results but certainly on its policies in IT and services which all of Europe recognizes,” she said.
The prime minister said that her cabinet submitted a draft law to parliament which includes tax exemptions for companies employing people who are returning to Serbia. That law, if adopted, would give companies employing people who spent two or more years abroad and who are paid three times the average salary a 70 percent reduction of the taxes on their earnings.
Brnabic said that the countries of the Western Balkans have to realize that they will be facing problems of perception long after the region becomes stable. “The sooner we show what we are doing to achieve a better and more stable region, the better the results will be in terms of perception and attracting investments,” she said.
Speaking at a forum panel earlier, Brnabic said that the region is facing two key challenges: negative perception and a brain drain. “The Western Balkans have to be stable, predictable and business friendly but the perception of the region will be a problem for a long time. That is the key challenge along with the brain drain and if the government does not do something serious about that it will loose key resources and the future,” she said.