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MARCH BUSINESS LEADERS’ MEETING POINT

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DEJAN VUKOTIĆ, Director of the Export Credit and Insurance Agency of the Republic of Serbia

BOGDAN LABAN Mayor of Subotica

Launchpad For Export

A Host For All Investors

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JANKO STOJANOVIĆ CEO, Buildcon Inc.

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CORPORATE DEJAN VUKOTIĆ, DIRECTOR OF THE EXPORT CREDIT AND INSURANCE AGENCY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

Launchpad For Export The services of insuring and financing exports that AOFI provides to Serbian exporters represent a powerful and important instrument that impacts on the country’s overall economic growth and development. And in 2017 we will continue to work on supporting businesses

as the responsible Ministry, contributed greatly to promoting and increasing Serbian exports in the previous period by increasing its activities. ■ To what extent did incentives applied during the Year of Entrepreneurship, coupled with your efforts to support SMEs, bear fruit in the form of increased exports of SMEs? - If we analyse export-orientated companies in the sector of SMEs and entrepreneurs in the Republic of Serbia, we

grammes, exerted maximum efforts that resulted in an increase in the share of SMEs and entrepreneurs in the Agency’s portfolio by over 30 per cent, which also resulted in increasing the exports of these companies.

■ What kinds of goals have you set for yourself for 2017? - Considering the good results achieved by the AOFI during 2016, as well as the fact that we successfully implemented all incentive programmes envisaged for the Year of Entrepreneurship, the targets during 2017 will not change The AOFI will get involved “dramatically” compared to the previin the process of supporting ■ Serbia is recording ever better ous period, with the exception of the export results. How much does the part related to stronger support for SMEs and will thereby join AOFI contribute to these results, SMEs and entrepreneurs by broadenforces with the Ministry of the measured according to the volume ing its existing product portfolio and Economy of the Republic of of its activities? revising current interest rates that Serbia, which is planning to - As an economic category, export should provide Serbian exporters carries with it a number of positive declare the period ahead as the with a strong competitive position effects for the economy, thus the reon existing markets and enable them Decade of Entrepreneurship to possibly conquer new, primarily sults achieved by the economy of the fast-growing, markets. Republic of Serbia in this segment contribute to creating conditions for can conclude that the biggest problem ■ Are you considering new incentive sustainable growth and development. faced is represented by a lack of access instruments under the auspices of Organised institutional state support for to sources of funding. A lack of funding your mandate? export is of great importance, because it sources, both for working capital and - Considering that the SME and entreprestrengthens the competitiveness of the investment, prevents their continuous country on foreign markets. The sergrowth and development, and thus the neur sector is recognised as a generator growth and development of the Serbian of economic growth, and in particular vices of insuring and financing exports economy as a whole. The importance of the export-orientated part, and that the that AOFI provides to Serbian exporters this segment of the economy was recogMinistry of the Economy of the Repubrepresent a powerful and important instrument that impacts on the country’s nised by the Government of the Republic lic of Serbia plans to declare the period overall economic growth and developof Serbia, which declared 2016 the Year ahead as the Decade of Entrepreneurof Entrepreneurship, and the AOFI, while ment. I can say that AOFI, with great supship, it is certain that the AOFI will also implementing the government’s probe involved in this process. ■ port from the Ministry of the Economy,

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he Export Credit and Insurance Agency of the Republic of Serbia (AOFI) will this year continue to stimulate exports, especially when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises, says AOFI director Dejan Vukotić.

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bicycles/parts/accessories/service www.planetbike.rs

PLANETBIKE

Authorized distributor for Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro

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LOCAL

NEWS

FORECAST

NATIONAL BANK OF SERBIA

“The construction sector accounts for 5.1% of Serbia’s GDP. The plan is to make it at least 7%. These figures show how much has been done, that we have a better environment for investors, and a developed real estate market.” — ZORANA MIHAJLOVIĆ, Deputy PM and Minister of Construction and Infrastructure AIRPORT NIKOLA TESLA

Economic Growth Will Accelerate Further

Bid For A 25-year Concession The Serbian government and the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport have published an invitation to bid for a 25-year concession for the airport.

National Bank of Serbia (NBS) presented its February inflation report. According to Jorgovanka Tabakovic, NBS’s governor, Serbia’s economic growth will accelerate further to around 3 pct this year and around 3.5 pct in 2018, the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said in its February.

PKB

Serbian And Foreign Investors Interested in Privatisation

The Bank has been striving to strengthen the capacity of banks to resolve the NPL issue and to encourage the development of the NPL market. As a result of measures taken under the NPL Resolution Strategy, the share of NPLs in total loans declined significantly – according to preliminary data, from 21.6% at end-2015 to 17.0% at end-2016, their lowest since 2011. Growth is expected to accelerate by investment and exports (which posted an exceptionally high growth rate in 2016).

Eight investors from Serbia and abroad have declared interest in the privatization of Belgrade-based farming company PKB. They include “one natural person from Kovin, two companies from Serbia, companies from the United Arab Emirates, China, Singapore and two from Great Britain,” the agency said, adding that it learned from the ministry the letters of interest - that are not binding - arrived from Matijevic and MK Commerce companies from Serbia, as well as Al Dahra from the UAE. The potential investors from Great Britain, Singapore and China “requested confidentiality and their names could not be disclosed.” The Ministry of Economy will propose an optimal model of privatization to the government - either selling of capital or property, strategic partnership, or a combination of those models. “After the government’s decision on the model of privatization, the Ministry of Economy will announce a public invitation, within a deadline that depends on a series of activities that have to precede it, which are different for every privatization model,” the Ministry of Economy said in a statement quoted by Beta.

The notice, published on the airport’s web site, says that the concession allows the concession holder to finance and expand the airport through new construction and reconstruction projects, maintain and run the airport infrastructure, and act as an operator. The concession contract cannot be signed by companies running airports lesser than 450 kilometers from Belgrade.

10 THINGS SMART PEOPLE WON’T SAY

JTI SERBIA

One of The Top Employers Europe 2017 Japan Tobacco International in Serbia has been officially awarded with Top Employers Europe and Top Employer Serbia certificates for 2017 by the Top Employers Institute headquartered in Netherlands. Because of its exceptional employee offerings JTI in Serbia is among the best employers for the second year in the row. The Top Employers Institute recognizes those that provide excellent employee conditions, nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organization, and which strive to continuously optimize employment practices. Crucial to the Top Employers Certification is completing a stringent research process, and meeting the required standard in order to achieve Certification. “I deeply believe that people practices, especially the best ones, can be implemented only by collaborative action, driven by top team, HR, line managers and every employee in this company,” said Didier Ellena, Vice President and GM, JTI Adriatica.

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Certain phrases carry special power— they make you look bad even when the words are true. There are some things you simply never want to say at work. These phrases are so loaded with negative implications that they undermine careers in short order.

1. “This is the way it’s always been done.” 2. “It’s not my fault.” 3. “I can’t.” 4. “It’s not fair.” 5. “That’s not in my job description.” 6. “This may be a silly idea …/I’m going to ask a stupid question.” 7. “I’ll try.” 8. “This will only take a minute.” 9. “I hate this job.” 10. “He’s lazy/incompetent/a jerk.”


SUPPORT “Thanks to the World Bank for supporting the efforts of the government to formulate and adopt an Action Plan for the Implementation of the Programme of the Government, on the principle of so-called management based on expected results.” AIK BANK

— IVICA DAČIĆ, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

ECB Approved Acquisition Of Shares Of Gorenjska Banka

The European Central Bank (ECB) has reached the decision approving the acquisition of shares of the Kranj-based Gorenjska Banka by AIK Bank, owned by businessman Miodrag Kostic. Based on this decision, AIK Bank can acquire up to 100% of the assets and voting rights in Gorenjska Banka. By purchasing the shares of Gorenjska Banka, AIK Bank intends to keep strengthening its business influence and expanding its operations and client and partner pool outside Serbia, i.e. to the EU market. Activities such as this do not only result in expanding the cooperation of AIK Bank with the local and EU market in the field of banking operations, but in creating conditions for the expansion of operations to other industries, thereby strengthening the economic competitiveness of the entire region, AIK Bank reported. AIK Bank bought 13.9% shares of Gorenjska Banka in January 2016 and became its second biggest owner after Sava Osiguranje, which holds 37.7% of the assets. AIK Bank has been recognized as a strong, stable and reliable financial institution in the entire region, considering that the European Business Council acknowledged it to be the best regional institution at its International Socrates Award Ceremony. TELENOR

Telenor Leads In Mobile Data Traffic In Serbia

Placements & postings appointments@aim.rs

KARLA HERSHEY

New UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia/UNDP Karla Hershey holds an M.B.A in Management from the American InterContinental University and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the Southern Methodist University, Texas. She also completed post-graduate courses at the London School of Economics and Political Science in Sociology, Middle East studies, Nationalism and Foreign Relations. Prior to joining the UN, she served in various capacities with World Vision Relief and Development in Angola, Rotary International in Evanston, Illinois, the American Employee’s Association in Rwanda and the U.S. Peace Corps in Rwanda. Hershey began her UN career with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as Humanitarian Affairs Officer (OCHA) in Angola (1998-2000). She served as the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative and Designated Official in Maseru, Lesotho (2012-2017), in addition to serving the World Food Programme as Representative and Country Director in Swaziland (2009-2012). Other posts have included WFP’s Deputy Country Director and Head of Programme in Malawi (2006-2009), WFP Country Director a.i. in Syria (2007) and the Head of Resource Mobilization, Food Procurement, Pipeline Management, Public Information and Sub-Office Focal Point in Tanzania (2003-2006). She also served as WFP Regional Affairs Officer, Bureau for Eastern and Southern Africa, in Johannesburg (2002-2003) and as Programme Officer in Ethiopia (2000-2002).

NEBOJŠA PANTELIĆ, New Director of the Network and Retail Management Function at Vojvođanska Bank

Nebojša Pantelić (41) was appointed as the new director of the network and retail management function at Vojvođanska Banka, effective as of January 2017. Pantelić possesses a wealth of professional experience and knowhow, which will further improve the quality of services and the creation of products tailored to meet the needs of existing and future clients of Vojvođanska Banka. He took on his current position after spending many years working as director of financial market functions at Vojvođanska Banka, a position he held from 2007. A member of the Financial Markets Association, he graduated from the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Economics, Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance. A fluent English speaker, Pantelić was born in Belgrade and is a married father of three children.

VLADIMIR VAVA

New CEO for Carlsberg Srbija Group Vladimir Vava has been named as the new Chief Executive Officer of Carlsberg Serbia Group, which encompasses operations in Serbia, BosniaHerzegovina and Montenegro. Vladimir took over his new function on 1st February this year, after spending three years in the position of Vice President of Sales at Baltika Breweries, a Russian company that is also owned by the Carlsberg Group. Prior to deciding to continue his career within the Carlsberg Group, Vava held the position of vice president of sales and operations at company Makro Cash & Carry, part of the Metro Group retail chain, in Spain and Portugal. Born 1968 in Romania, Vladimir graduated in Hydromechanics at the University of Timisoara, before advancing his education with an MBA from the UK’s University of Sheffield. He is a married father of two children.

STANKA PEJANOVIĆ

President of the Serbian Association of Managers (SAM)

Serbia’s Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services shows that more than half of mobile internet traffic goes over the Telenor network. Out of 11.5 million GB in Q3 2016, more than 5.9 million GB was used by Telenor customers. According to Telenor Serbia CTO Kai Gulbrandsen, 8.5 million GB were transferred through Telenor network last year only for watching clips on YouTube. Over the next five months, the operator will enable high-speed internet for 80 percent of the population with 1,600 4G base stations.

Stanka Pejanović has become the fourth president of the Serbian Association of Managers and will hold this post for the next three years. A graduate economist, since November 2014 Pejanović has held the position of general director of company Gorenje d.o.o., part of the Gorenje Group, Slovenia’s largest producer of home appliances and the eighth largest manufacturer of white goods in Europe. Prior to Gorenje, this experienced economic expert dedicated her twenty-year professional career to building the commercial brands “Roda” and “Mercator”. Upon taking over the position of SAM President, Pejanović thanked members for the trust placed in her, saying that for her this is primarily a great responsibility, but also an honour and a pleasure.

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CORPORATE BOGDAN LABAN, MAYOR OF SUBOTICA

A Host For All Investors The City of Subotica continues to invest in infrastructure this year, first of all to improve the business climate, but also to realise the “Park Palić” project

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xcellent geographical location, proximity of the EU and Corridor 10, major infrastructure potential, rapid permitting procedure for investors, educated and qualified workforce, opportunity for business in the free zone - these have all contributed to Subotica’s being recognised for its strategy for attracting foreign direct investment and creating new jobs. ■ Subotica is one of the best places for attracting new investors. What do you expect in this regard by the end of the year? - In 2017 we plan to expand production capacity and create new jobs in the Mali Bajmok business zone. The company Contitech Fluid Serbia plans to hire 250 people. A production plant with a surface area of 10,000 square metres is being built in the business zone for Ametek; we expect them to make good on their intention to hire around 200 staff. We shall soon welcome another new company that will operate in the Mali Bajmok business zone and that will hire 100 people. ■ How are the works going on developing the site at Palić with the 34 |

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aim of establishing a well-deserved place on the regional tourist map? - Palić is a famous tourist gem of the region, officially declared by the Government of the Republic of Serbia a tourist area of special importance. This has generated a number of activities to make the area even more attractive. Palić is a destination that can meet the demands of guests for recreational, sports, business, congress and cultural tourism. The Palić area is rich with thermal mineral water, which makes it a spa with a 170-yearold tradition.

Subotica was the winner of a special award presented by NALED for the best result in issuing electronic permits among city administrations in Serbia in 2016 In 2017 alone we plan to realise investments of over 120 million dinars in facilities and infrastructure, which will result in a higher quality tourist offering. Funds are provided by the Republic of Serbia and AP Vojvodina through public tenders, and the projects are implemented by the company Park Palić as the official manager of

the tourist area, which was founded by the Republic of Serbia, the Province and the City of Subotica. ■ Subotica has recently received a special award from NALED for the best result in issuing electronic permits among city administrations in Serbia in 2016. How much has this project improved the city administration? - A year after the introduction of the unified electronic procedure, 1,197 requests had been submitted in Subotica in 2016, out of which 97 percent had been processed and 90 percent of these were granted. The value of the average success rate defined by NALED was 93.6 percent. The staff of our city administration understood a long time ago the importance of rapid issuing of building permits, and welcomed the introduction of the unified electronic procedure as one more challenge to rise to. This was a highly professional approach and contributed to a better quality of service for all citizens. Other local governments in our country also handled the introduction of the unified electronic procedure responsibly, as a particularly important economic reform for the Republic of Serbia. ■


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REGIONAL

NEWS

NEGOTIATIONS “When it comes to candidate countries for membership in the European Union, there are no negotiations on the rule of law, because it must be applied without exceptions” — JOHANNES HAHN, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

HUNGARY

Military Exports To Middle East Booming AccordingtotheBosnianForeignTradeChamber, the country’s arms producers achieved profits in 2016 that were between 15 and 20 per cent higher than the year before. The Chamber’s data shows that the value of arms exports in 2016 amounted to €87.4 million, compared to €70 million in the previous year. In 2016, Bosnian military exports to Egypt amounted were worth about €22.8 million. Exports to Saudi Arabia were worth about €17.2 million, and to the United States, €12.8 million. Other major importers of Bosnian-produced arms and military equipment in 2016 were Serbia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Malaysia.

Hungary’s Real Wages Up 7.4% Real wages in Hungary were up by 7.4% in 2016, compared to the preceding year, along with a 0.4% rise in consumer prices compared to the same period.

CROATIA

APS Enters Croatian Market Czech APS Holding entered the Croatian market by purchasing a portfolio of non-performing loans (NPL) with a nominal value of €142 million. The company plans to hire over 40 staff in its new location. The investment includes non-performing corporate loans, both secured and unsecured, those secure coming in particular from the residential, commercial and industrial property segments. The nominal value of the portfolio stands at €142 million, was purchased from Hrvatska Postanska, with the approval of the National Bank of Croatia. “Our purpose is to assist banks that hold receivables with problems and to help debtors aliminate debt, in fair and mutually advantageous conditions,” said Martin Machon, APS Holding CEO said. The new acquisitions add up to the current receivables owned by APS Holding, which include 75 NPL portfolios with a total nominal value of over €4.7 billion.

Albania Launches E-Inspections Albania has launched e-inspections into businesses in a bid to increase transparency, reduce corruption and improve the climate of doing business in the country. Albania’s general tax administration has recently made available a hotline to assist businesses with tax related enquiries. Starting Feb. 1, businesses can phone to get information of electronic filing, tax legislation and services offered by the tax administration. Relations with tax authorities are considered problematic by more than a third of businesses in Albania, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce. FYR MACEDONIA

First Responsible Businesses Club Formed First Responsible Businesses Club in Macedonia was formed late last month at the British Ambassador’s residence in Skopje. All interested Macedonian companies regardless of their size can become members of the Club, whose aim is to provide intensive and substantial cooperation between businesses and civil society in promoting the principles of social responsibility. The Club is founded by Konekt civic association while 50 Macedonian companies supported the initiative for its formation. 149

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10 THINGS

EMPLOYEES HATE IN AN OFFICE

ALBANIA

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Full-time employees’ average gross monthly nominal earnings according to the national concept amounted to HUF 263,200 (€856) at corporations employing at least five persons, budgetary and designated non-profit institutions.

Some days your office life is boring. Bosses can be annoying, co-workers can be overwhelming and the overall demands related to being awake, coherent and productive can be totally draining. Here are 10 things employees can’t stand about their workplace.

1. Do not take things off of my desk 2. Do not leave things on my desk 3. Leave me alone, part one 4. Leave me alone, part two 5. Leave me alone, part three 6. Leave me alone, part four 7. Don’t touch my a/c, fam 8. I don’t know anything 9. Administrative assistant does not mean errand-girl or intern 10. I just really hate clothes


SECURITY “NATO is committed to the security of the Western Balkans, and we are playing our part in building security with our regional partners. Some countries in the region have already joined our Alliance, and more aspire to do so.”— JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary General BULGARIA

Seeking South Stream Project Revival With Russia considering a move to suspend gas transit via Ukraine, southern Europe and particularly Bulgaria would like to renew the South Stream gas pipeline project, Andrey Listovski, who heads the Energy Development Fund, is quoted by UA Regnum as saying. Listovski’s Energy Development Fund is a non-governmental organization “involved in the designed of Russian energy sector development”.In his comments he has recalled the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who earlier in February said South Stream could be renewed if Bulgaria could give rocksolid guarantees the project will not fall through. “Everybody is theoretically ready to renew activities on South Stream. But Russia... is ready to renew [it] in case of clear guarantees that the money will not be wasted.” This position is very rational, advisable economically and well-founded from the political point of view, Listovski has said. His remarks follow a statement from the Russian commercial attaché to Bulgaria, who recently said it was likely for the project to be revived.

ROMANIA

Airbus To Set Up Helicopters Production Airbus Helicopters, the helicopter manufacturing division of Airbus Group, will open a Centre of Excellence in Romania for H215 Puma helicopters production. This comes after Airbus inaugurated in September 2016 a helicopter plant in Ghimbav, Brasov County, an important investment for the aeronautic industry. Airbus Helicopters presence on domestic market will have a positive impact on the trade balance by adding an exports volume of almost 80 percent

MONTENEGRO

Ryanair To Launch New Podgorica Flights Europe’s largest low cost airline, Ryanair, will launch flights between Stockholm Skavsta Airport and Podgorica this spring, marking the carrier’s fourth destination from the Montenegrin capital. The new service will operate twice per week, each Thursday and Sunday, starting April 2. Tickets are already on sale through the airline’s website. “We are delighted to introduce new flights out of Podgorica for the 2017 summer season, which includes Stockholm and the recently launched flights from Berlin, for a total of four destinations from this airport. As a result, we will handle 110.000 passengers to and from Podgorica this year and create eighty local jobs at the airport”, the no frills carrier said in a statement. Podgorica is preparing for an extremely busy year following a record 2016 during which it managed to overtake Sarajevo to become the former Yugoslavia’s ninth busiest airport. So far, Wizz Air has announced plans to launch flights from Budapest to the Montenegrin capital starting April 3, while LOT Polish Airlines will commence seasonal operations between Warsaw and Podgorica from May 13.

PROCREDIT GROUP

Supporting SMEs In Serbia, Kosovo And FYR Macedonia

of company’s turnover. The new plant in Ghimbav will host the production of H215, a twin-engine and versatile helicopter, which provides advanced avionics in a reliable and sturdy platform capable of performing a wide range of missions. It offers long-range capabilities, power, speed, an excellent useful payload as well as an availability rate of more than 95 percent.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and three ProCredit group subsidiaries have signed guarantee agreements to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Serbia, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This was made possible via the Western Balkans Guarantee Facility, funded by the European Union under the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility. The Western Balkans Guarantee Facility agreements aim to facilitate access to finance for SMEs in Serbia, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by providing credit coverage on a total of €70 million of loans over the next two years. SMEs will be able to access €35 million from ProCredit Bank Kosovo, €25 million from ProCredit Bank Serbia and €10 million from ProCredit Bank Macedonia. MARCH

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CORPORATE JANKO STOJANOVIĆ, CEO, BUILDCON INC.

Making Painful Problems Simple The trick is to create something that solves the most painful problems and saves time, but is simultaneously fast and user friendly. Although the construction sector proved to be a tough nut to crack, Buildcon Inc. thinks it may change that

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uildcon is a management web and mobile app that strives to revolutionise the way building project managers and engineers in the construction industry organise their work, by rendering their communication and collaboration instant, with all data in one place. We spoke with Buildcon Inc. CEO Janko Stojanović about the prospects of this promising start-up.

tracking the same metrics and viewing the same reports. Buildcon is a mix of a lean construction approach with some of the best and proven project management methodologies, and by using it basically anyone can deliver their projects on time and yield higher profits. Besides that, companies also create a huge amount of useful data that is analysed and used for reference on future projects. This needs to happen in construction so that we can minimise misunderstandings and focus on important things.

than the money they put in. Our investors are not focused on the development of our product. They are more helpful with the growth and scaling of our company, basically everything business related. Fast development of technology is also bringing new sales and marketing approaches that we are constantly testing and implementing with our business model.

■ Today you operate from two addresses, one in Silicon Valley and the other in Belgrade. What are your future plans? -By working closely with our clients and beta testers, we are constantly We are actively seeking ■ With your application you found developing new Buildcon modules partners in the form of major a niche – in the construction and features. We are actively seekconstruction companies across ing partners in the form of major industry – that was not previously Europe, the Middle East and the construction companies across investigated by many start-ups. Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. What is the situation like today U.S. We want them as our We want them as our clients, but and how are you positioned on the clients, but also as evangelists also as evangelists of the values market? of the values that Buildcon that Buildcon is bringing to con- Construction tech is an extremely is bringing to construction struction projects generally. interesting domain today. Considering that the construction industry is We are still focusing strongly on projects generally one of the least digitised industries the product; we want Buildcon to ■ Early last year you simultaneously in the world, and that productivity and be something that field engineers and entered two great world seed funds profit margins are way below other project managers couldn’t imagine and accelerators. How much has that industries, it is not that hard to realise working without on their projects. It’s helped you in developing your apthat construction needs to change and easy to build complicated software, but plications? actively adopt innovative solutions. the trick is to create something that - Working with some of the best menOur vision for Buildcon is as an solves the most painful problems and tors and serial entrepreneurs in Silicon ultimate cloud-based system for saves time, but is also fast and easy to Valley was an eye-opener for us. For construction projects with all project use. That rarely happens in construction me personally, it was more valuable shareholders on the same platform, software and we want to change that. ■ 38 |

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FEATURE DIGITAL WORLD

Greening Digital Finance Digital finance has turned out to be an unexpected revolutionary, simply by enabling low-cost financial inclusion. Thanks to new financial technologies (fintech), consumers can shop seamlessly, small businesses can access credit in minutes through Big Data-driven profiling, and savers can shape their own investment destinies

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ut if fintech is to reach its potential to advance the global public good, another factor must be accounted for: the environment. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently published a report, “Fintech and Sustainable Development: Assessing the Implications,” exploring how digital finance can be leveraged for environmental gains. As the report points out, by reducing costs and boosting efficiency, fintech is already mobilizing green finance, enabling poorer people to access clean energy through innovative payment systems and facilitating green savings for rich and poor alike. The Swedish start-up Trine, for example, enables savers in downtown Stockholm to fund distributed solar-energy systems in rural areas thousands of kilometers away. Other experiments highlight the green potential of block chain and cryptocurrencies. The rewards of such initiatives could be substantial – for households, financial-services providers, economies, and the environment. With this in mind, a coalition of digital-finance companies, the Green Digital Finance Alliance, was launched at this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. One of the alliance’s founders, ANT Financial Services has a mobile-payments platform with 450 million users in China alone. The organization is now working with UNEP to offer an experimental “green energy” app that rewards users for reduced carbon use. Fintech is part of a broader digital revo-

lution, which also includes Big Data, the Internet of Things, block chain, and artificial intelligence. Such technologies enable us to record and trace the lifecycle of products – even money itself – thereby determining precisely how they were used, how they were financed, and what impact they had on the environment. So ANT’s new green energy app translates financial-transaction data into implied carbon emissions. This approach, if extended across more payments platforms, could engage hundreds of millions of individuals in factoring carbonsavings into their daily lifestyle choices. All revolutions carry unintended costs, and are susceptible to diversion, if not outright

With the right approach, fintech can be harnessed to strengthen economies and societies, while helping to preserve the environment. Fortunately, this could well be the year that green digital finance comes of age corruption. The fintech revolution is no different. Loss of privacy is the most obvious risk; indeed, despite efforts to create safeguards, it is all but inevitable. But there are also less visible risks, stemming from the disruption of existing markets. The risks created by high-frequency trading on the financial returns of our lumbering, twentiethcentury pension funds are far-reaching.

Another casualty will be regulation, at least for a while, as policymakers struggle to figure out how to manage an increasingly complex, dynamic, and virtual financial system. There is also a risk that the commoditisation effects brought by speed and Big Data will undermine the conditions for sustainable development. Though these risks cannot be eliminated, they can be mitigated. Regulators, in particular, will need to work fast to keep up, as best they can, in a fast-changing financial milieu. But their goal should not be only to protect against fintech’s risks; they should also aim to guide it, so that it can reach its full potential. For example, fintech should be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals – an effort that demands new standards, market innovation, and collaboration. Countries worldwide should integrate digital finance into their sustainabledevelopment financing plans. Multilateral measures will also be important. This year, the G20, under Germany’s leadership, will focus on building resilience, improving sustainability, and assuming responsibility for climate change – all areas where digitization must be part of the solution. Likewise, the G7, under Italy’s leadership, will explore how to finance “green” small and medium-sized enterprises, taking advantage of fintech-powered innovations. With the right approach, fintech can be harnessed to strengthen economies and societies, while helping to preserve the environment. Fortunately, this could well be the year that green digital finance comes of age. ■ MARCH

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WORLD

NEWS

MANIFESTO “There are many of us who stand for bringing people together and connecting the world. I hope we have the focus to take the long view and build the new social infrastructure to create the world we want for generations to come.”— MARK ZUCKERBERG, Facebook CEO

SOUTH KOREA

CHINA

Direct Overseas Investment Hits Record High Last Year

4G Users Total 770 Million China had 770 million 4G users at the end of 2016, double the number from a year earlier, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed.More than 58 percent of China’s mobile phone users were 4G subscribers at the end of 2016 (there were 386 million at the end of 2015).

According to Korea’s direct overseas investment in 2016 released by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance on February 15, Korea posted $49.24 billion in direct overseas investment in 2016, up 18.7 percent from a year earlier. The amount of remittances added up to US$ 35.25 billion, a record high, jumping 14.2 percent year on year. UK

Unilever Rejects Kraft Takeover Bid

“It is expected that global direct overseas investment will grow thanks to a recovery of global economic growth, fiscal stimulation by the United States, and a rise in raw material prices this year” said an official of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

Unilever, which owns some of the UK’s most famous household brands, has strongly rejected a takeover bid from US food giant Kraft Heinz. The maker of Marmite and PG Tips said it saw “no merit, either financial or strategic” in Kraft’s offer, worth about $143bln But Kraft, which makes Heinz ketchup, indicated it would continue working on a deal for the Anglo-Dutch firm. The deal would be one of the biggest in corporate history. It would combine Unilever’s dozens of household names, which also includes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dove soap, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, with Kraft’s own wide range, such as Philadelphia cheese and Heinz baked beans.

China has the world’s largest 4G network and is aiming to add 2 million 4G base stations, mainly for townships and villages, by 2018. China is also researching and testing 5G technology with a goal to commercialize it by 2020. GERMANY

TURKEY

Turkey And Azerbaijan Agreed Preferential Trade Deal In order to boost mutual economic cooperation, Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to make a preferential trade deal. “We hope that the deal would be online soon and help to boost our bilateral trade ties,” said Turkish Minister Faruk Özlü. He noted that Turkey wants to improve its economic and trade ties with Georgia. Some $1.3 billion was recorded in 2016 with a 4.2 percent of increase compared to 2015, adding that Turkey had remained at top places in the country’s imports and exports since 2009. Özlü also emphasized on the significance of joint projects by Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia especially in the field of energy, including the TransAnatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku Railway. NETHERLAND

Amsterdam Promoting Green Driving Amsterdam set a new record last year, with 28,889 people charging electric vehicles in the city. This is an increase of 53% compared to 2015, which saw 18,815 people charge their vehicles in Amsterdam. In 2016, drivers of electric cars in the city also loaded enough energy to travel almost 25 million kilometres, which is more than 600 times the circumference of the world. The number of public charging points in the city also grew substantially, from 1,550 to 2,030.

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Economy Expanded In Q4 Of Last Year The German economy grew at a faster pace of 0.4 percent in the final quarter of 2016, the national statistics office, Destatis, reported.The figure marked a decent pickup from the 0.1-percent expansion rate logged for the previous quarter. Destatis also confirmed its previous estimate of full-year growth, saying that Europe’s largest economy grew by 1.9 percent throughout 2016.


TECHNOLOGY “I have always believed that technology should do the hard work - discovery, organisation, communication - so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers! That means making our products work together seamlessly.”— LARRY PAGE, Co-founder of Google Inc CANADA

Enbridge To Invest $1.7bln In Wind Farm

Canadian giant Enbridge Inc. is making big inroads into renewables even as changes in government policies are paving the way for the rapid expansion of its traditional oil and gas pipeline business. The company said it was investing $1.7 billion for 50 per cent of the Hohe See wind energy project off the coast of Germany, which follows last year’s $282-million buy of a 50 per cent stake in a group of French offshore wind projects. For the company’s new German wind project, it expects to spend $600 million this year and invest the remaining $1.1 billion through 2019, when the project is expected to be in service.

BRAZIL

Carnivals To Register Worst Revenues In 3 Years The 2017 Carnival festivities around the country this year are expected to move €1.76 billion in tourism activities this year, according to a survey conducted by the National Confederation of Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC). The revenues generated during this time of year in the transportation segment are expected to total around €296.7 million while the accommodation segment expects revenues of around €197.8 million.

FRANCE

Peugeot To Keep German Jobs If It Buys Opel French automaker PSA has pledged to keep Opel plants in Germany running if a planned merger goes forward, and to refrain from layoffs until at least 2019, a newspaper report said.

IRAN

Iran Finds 2 Billion Barrels Shale Oil Reserves

Iran has found shale oil reserves of 2 billion barrels of light crude in its western Lorestan province. “Based on studies, it is estimated that the shale oil reserves in Ghali Koh in Lorestan amount to 2 billion barrels of light oil in place,” said Bahman Soleimani, NIOC’s deputy director for exploration. Soleimani said exploration was also being carried out for shale gas reserves in the area, and the studies were expected to be completed by October, 2017. Iran’s proven oil reserves of about 160 billion barrels, almost 10 percent of the world’s total, rank it fourth among petroleum-rich countries.

PSA, the parent company of France’s Peugeot, Citroen and DS, has confirmed it is interested in taking over Opel, the German arm of US giant General Motors.But the plans have sparked fears in Germany that Peugeot will cut jobs that overlap with existing positions in France. Olivier Bourges, who sits on PSA’s executive committee, had assured Chancellor Angela Merkel that existing contracts would be respected. Founded in 1862 as a sewing machine maker, Opel has long been a familiar sight on German and European roads.But in recent years, the company has booked repeated losses, costing Detroit-based GM around 14 billion euros since 2000. It sells more cars in Britain, under its Vauxhall brand, than in any other European country. Opel has some 10 factories in Europe spread across six countries.

MEXICO

Over 160 Countries Import Mexican Products Food services which account for 57.3 percent of all revenues during this period should total €1 billion. Carnival period, which in some cities extends up to a week, is considered the largest holiday in the national calendar for tourism related services. Rio de Janeiro is the state expected to register the greatest movement of resources, with an expected circulation of €728 million, followed by São Paulo, with €452 million.

More than 160 countries are consuming products made in Mexico, a result of 120 million Mexicans who do a great job, in which the preparation of professionals dedicated to food production is the main tool. Among the products that Mexico exports are honey, pork, beef, poultry and pasteurized egg, the head of the National Service of Health, Safety and AgroFood Quality (Senasica), Enrique Sánchez Cruz, described. He stressed that all national foods meet the health and quality requirements of markets as demanding as Australia, Japan, China and the Belgian Congo, among others. In addition, Mexico is currently negotiating with Arab countries to market a wide variety of foods, since they import 90 percent of what they consume. MARCH

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