The investment conference on the furniture industry in “Serbia Serbian Furniture Industry Conference” was held on Tuesday, the first event day. Under cooperation with Belgrade Fair, the Conference was organized by the Development Agency of Serbia. At this trade meeting, Serbian furniture industry potentials were presented, the investment opportunities, as well as the experiences of previous investors – local businessmen and international institutions at various projects in this industry. Their experiences were presented by GIR, Jela Jagodina, HealthCare, USAID, Studio Struktura, as well as the representatives of the relevant Governmental authorities.

The conference attendees agreed the local woodworking industry had a great potential from the growth, as well as many comparative advantages compared with the competition. Their main clinchers are excellent raw materials base, long tradition and the know how in the solid wood furniture manufacturing, highly demanded at global markets. However, it is important to point out there are less than two percent of employees in Serbia working in this sector, who contribute to the GDP with only 1.5 percent. These are low percentages, particularly compared with the raw materials and labor base Serbia has got in the furniture industry and the whole woodworking one.

During last year, the woodworking industry accomplished the export of 363 million US Dollars, which is 2.7 percent of the total Serbian export. When the structure of this export is analyzed, from the total quantity of produced logs less than a half, more precisely 48 percent of them are processed into the products with the higher added value – furniture and exported this way.

How important the higher grade of final processing is, since it brings incomparably higher benefit, was presented in a very illustrative way by Mr. Željko Sertić, CEO of the Development Agency of Serbia. He mentioned the last year’s example of lumber exports of 145 thousand cubic meters, worth 45.3 million Euros – if it had been processed only into chairs, five million of them would have been received, having almost six times higher export value of – 265 million Euros. If these chairs were especially designed, the price could be even – 10 times higher. Not less important is the fact the lumber processing into the chairs procedure would employ not less than five thousand workmen.

Thus, the Government, under cooperation with international organizations, developed the Action Plan for Woodworking Industry Stimulation. If the proposed measures are successfully implemented, Serbian woodworking industry will get a great opportunity to position as the industry branch that can generate the most new jobs in Serbia in the shortest possible time. As estimated, 10 – 12 thousand additional workmen would be employed by 2022. On the other side, possible lack of success in these measures implementation will impact so that Serbia loses the opportunity to enhance its competition position for a long time and it would turn into a raw material base for strong global and regional companies dealing with the woodworking industry.