[wzslider]By: Nevena Šarenac
The fourth international investment conference Sarajevo Business Forum 2013 called “Models of Growth and Lessons for Southeast Europe” was held in hotel ‘Holiday’ in Sarajevo today. It gathered a number of figures from the political and economic life of BiH and the world, as well as representatives of the Diplomatic Corps in our country.
BiH and its capital city are becoming an attractive place for investors throughout the world, and Sarajevo Business Forum, which is organized by BBI Bank and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), has turned into a nice tradition. At the last three conferences, which was labeled by some media as “the most important economic event in modern BiH”, included the attendance of more than 1.300 investors from the Gulf, Europe, Asia and the US that presented projects from various sectors.
The honorary guests of this year’s Sarajevo Business Forum were the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Ali Babaca, the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahatmir Mohammad, former President of Slovenia Danilo Turk, State Minister of Finance of the UAE Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer, and the manifestation was opened by the Director of Sarajevo Business Forum Amer Bukvić and member of the BiH Presidency Bakir Izetbegović.
“Sarajevo Business Forum is a mechanism through which we have been trying for a long time to change the image and ambient in BiH. Last year we prepared projects and brought investors, and today we are trying to speak about strategies in BiH, of products that could position our country in the global market’’, said Bukvić.
In his opening address, Bakir Izetbegović said that BiH has ‘’shown courage and strength, and with a burden on its feet, continues to move forward’’.
“Our country received help from our friends in the East and West’’, said Izetbegović, adding that today’s forum is an excellent opportunity for true friends of BiH and eminent world leaders to clarify on how BiH could make a positive economic shift based on the models of their own countries.
He said that political leaders and business people have to be one team that would create new value, progress and prosperity.
He stressed that BiH has all the necessary prerequisites to be an equal member of the European family, emphasizing that our country has developed very good relations with neighboring countries. In this context, he said that ‘’better days are coming’’ for the region.
Speaking on the potential advantages of BiH in relation to other European countries, Izetbegović referred to research by the World Bank, which showed that our country is first in the region and the seventh in Europe for water resources.
He stressed that BiH has rich forest resources, minerals, as well as some deposits of oil, and that opportunities for development should be looked for in agriculture and tourism.
“BiH has a long industrial tradition, educated people, responsible and relatively cheap labor force, experts, innovators, stable currency linked to the Euro and companies that are relevant in an international context’’, said Izetbegović, among other things.
Member of the BiH Presidency sees the biggest obstacle for foreign investment in bureaucracy, which discourage potential investors.
The Former Prime Minister of Malaysi Dr. Mahatmir Mohammad stressed that peace and political stability is a key factor in attracting foreign investors.
“It is necessary to focus on industries that could employ a new work force in BiH’’, said Mahatmir Mohammad.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Ali Babacan expressed satisfaction that he is in Sarajevo for the fourth time, adding that the forum is an opportunity for the exchange of experience and visions of progress.
“The exchange of experience is very important, because countries could put the positive experiences of other countries into practice’’, said Ali Babacan.
According to him, there has to be a political consensus in BiH in order to establish a positive economic climate for investors.
He said that a key factor for foreign investment is political stability of the country and the rule of law.
“Sarajevo Business Forum is an opportunity to hear the experiences of other countries, and for BiH to show that it has industrial, agricultural and touristic potential. Today we wish to establish progress’’, said the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey.
The Former President of Slovenia Dr. Danilo Turk thinks that the current situation in the region (accession of Croatia to the EU, progress in relations between Serbia and Kosovo) creates new political opportunities for the rapid progress of BiH.
“It is necessary to simplify the administrative procedure so that economic development would accelerate, so that there are no bureaucratic problems. Also, it is necessary to give support to all projects that connect economic actors from the countries in the former Yugoslavia’’, concluded Turk.