The second conference in a row called “REGIONAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE RETREAT 2022” was held under the slogan: “Sustainable connectivity of the Western Balkan region – regional cooperation and dialogue as a KEY TO DEVELOPMENT”, in the period from September 19 to 20 on the Jahorina mountain, organized by Foreign Investors Council in BiH (FIC) and Foreign Investment Promotion Agency of BiH (FIPA), under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with the media support of Bloomberg Adria.
For two days, the conference hosted participants from the Western Balkan business community, including representatives of the private and public sector, and representatives of the international community. All participants had the opportunity to listen and meet more than twenty interesting panelists and speakers, who discussed the following topics through interesting panels: Western Balkans – regional connectivity, digital economy, public-private partnership and creative industries.
On the first day of the conference, a panel was held on the topic “WESTERN BALKANS – Regional economic connection – market openness, infrastructure and cooperation for the free movement of capital, services and goods”. During this panel, the participants discussed the possibilities of promoting and implementing initiatives aimed at the development of trade, economic, transport and communication cooperation in the context of further deepening regional connectivity. On the agenda was a comprehensive exchange of opinions and joint development of proposals for improving cooperation in trade, investments, transport, energy and innovation, implementation of specific projects and programs of cooperation, ensuring better infrastructural connectivity and sustainable economic stability of the region. This panel was moderated by Vedran Peršić, Country Manager of Bloomberg Adria, while the panelists were Emir Đikić, director of CEFTA, Nedim Begović, representative of the Southeast Europe Transport Community, Slavica Korica, assistant director of FIPA, Andrej Lakić, assistant director of the Investment Agency of Montenegro, and Biljana Mićić, executive director of Limun Šped company and member of the Board of the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The first day of the conference was also reserved for the “DIGITAL ECONOMY” panel, where participants discussed the state and prospects of the digital transformation of business in the Western Balkans region. The task of this panel was to point out how to smartly invest in digital transformation projects of companies that will enable them to better connect and trust with partners in the region, increase cyber security in business processes and why it is important to invest in research and innovation. At this panel, we learned which specific digital transformation projects contributed to the improvement and growth of some economic sectors, and how international donors through their projects contribute to increasing the strengthening of digital connectivity in the region. The moderator of the second panel was Dragana Kokot from the Chamber of Commerce of the Republika Srpska, and the panelists were Manuela Naessl, head of the EBRD office in BiH, Davor Sakač, director of TS Venture Fund, Hajdi Mostić, CCO Telemach BiH, Almir Kovačević, EU IPA team leader of the project “Education for employment” and Aleksandar Crnovčić, manager of the sales and marketing department of the company Lanaco.
On the first day of the conference, a discussion was held on the topic “Western Balkans and ESG standards” with the aim of exchanging experiences and examples of good practice related to the promotion and introduction of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards in companies operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans, moderated by Branko Kecman, CEO of Advantis Broker.
On the second day of the conference, a panel discussion dedicated to the topic “PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP – a tool for investing in the future of the Western Balkan region” was held.
The aim of this panel was to provide an overview of PPP development in the region, and to share experiences on successful examples of PPP project implementation. Through this panel, the main similarities and differences in the PPP models applied in the region were identified, and ways of eliminating shortcomings in the legislative framework for PPP as well as challenges in the implementation of PPP projects were indicated. The panelists also tried to answer the questions of how to establish a more coherent legislative framework, establish an optimal institutional environment and resources (specific knowledge, skills and experience) in order to increase the number of projects through PPP that would establish a good balance between the interests of the public sector to achieve the best value for money and commercial interests of the private sector.
Through this panel, the conference participants were led by the moderator Mirza Karić, investment advisor of the Dubos Consulting company, and the panelists were Lada Buševac, head of the IFC office for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, Berin Alagić, CEO of the XYLLION company, Amina Đugum, a lawyer in cooperation with Karanović & Partners, Boban Teinović, director for business development of TeleGroup Ltd and Dragi Dizdar, director of the Norwegian-Bosnian Chamber of Commerce from Oslo.
The conference was concluded with the most interesting panel “CREATIVE INDUSTRIES – a tool for attracting investors and tourists”, which was organized with the support of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). At this panel, the participants discussed the economic potential of cultural and creative industries, which are increasingly taking a significant share in the GDP of developed countries. Since the scope of creative industries is really broad, new connections and synergies with tourism have emerged, offering destinations new ways to increase demand and develop new tourism products, experiences and markets. In addition, interesting panelists answered the questions of how strategic branding of a country can influence the attraction of investors, and how mega-events held in the Western Balkans region can be used as generators of urban and regional development.
This panel was moderated by Sanja Miovčić, executive director of the FIC, while the panelists were Ivana Zečević, senior advisor of the National Platform “Srbija stvata/Serbia creates”, Vedran Peršić, Country Manager Bloomberg Adria, Evisi Kopliku, expert on competitiveness in Regional Cooperation Council, Zvezdana Žujo, director of the Communis marketing agency, and Zehrudin Isaković, journalist and alpinist and author of the popular series “Peaks of the Balkans”.
The “Regional Business Executive Retreat 2022” conference, like last year’s conference, met all the expectations of the organizers and participants and created an excellent platform for the exchange of experiences and best business practices, but also for networking and starting cooperation between renowned experts and eminent names from the regional economic and political scene.