Around 300 guests from BIH, the region and the EU gathered on Sunday in Prijedor at the first two-day investment forum of the BIH diaspora-BHdiaFor 2013. The goal was to stimulate members of the BIH diaspora and others to invest in BIH and in the Prijedor region, or to establish business cooperation.
There were a number of distinguished guests at the forum, among which were the Governor of the Central Bank of BIH Kemal Kozarić, the Mayor of Prijedor Marko Pavić, President of the BIH Foreign Trade Chamber Ahmet Egrlić, and representatives of the BIH World Diaspora Association, international institutions and relevant entity and state institutions.
It was said at the forum that the goal was to promote investment in the region of Prijedor and to establish business cooperation between Prijedor companies and companies abroad in which they work, or whose owners are members of diaspora communities.
Participants presented potential investment and/or business projects and they spoke about networking entrepreneurs and investors from BIH and abroad.
The region of Prijedor is favorable for investors from many aspects, and the diaspora from this region that lives throughout the world has extraordinary potential. Many of them are owners of companies abroad or they work at high positions in companies.
In the region of Prijedor, the wood and textile industry, as well as the metal industry is particularly developed, but there is also potential for investment in other sectors.
Armin Alijagić, President of the Association Naša perspektiva, which is the organizer of the Forum, said that the goal of the gathering was to increase awareness of the diaspora as a development potential. He expressed satisfaction with the response, given that representatives of the BIH diaspora from 17 countries throughout the world were present at the Forum.
The Governor of the BIH Central Bank Kemal Kozaric said that BIH citizens that live abroad send 3,5 billion KM to BIH, 2 billion through transfers and one billion through pensions.
“And they deserve to have the necessary attention and not to have them seen as merely senders of money, but as partners to which we can make favorable conditions for investment’’, said Kozarić.
The President of the BIH Foreign Trade Chamber Ahmet Egrlić said that the diaspora is still not significantly present as an investor in BIH, and thus it is necessary to change the business philosophy and approach and to see the diaspora as a resource.
The Embassy of Norway and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) financed the forum.
According to the data from the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of BIH, 1.350.000 people from BIH live abroad, and in relation to the population, this represents one-third of the overall population of BIH.
The diaspora is important due to the potential of financial and human resources in the country. Now, the diaspora sends nearly two billion dollars a year, which makes up 20 percent of the GDP.
This puts BIH in fifth place among the twenty leading countries when comparing the volume of remittances of migrants in GDP.