4th Purchasing Initiative Western Balkans: B2B talks achieve record levels

This year, the organisers of the one-day event at the Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce were welcoming suppliers from all countries of the Western Balkans for the first time.

Matchmaking live: German buyers in B2B talks with suppliers from the Western Balkan region. Photo: Frank Rösch/BME e.V.

As part of the 4th Purchasing Initiative Western Balkans, more than 500 B2B talks took place on Tuesday between German buyers and potential suppliers.  "This is the largest number of B2B meetings that the BME and the German Chamber network have ever organised in the Western Balkans," said BME Managing Director Dr. Silvius Grobosch in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

A classic approach to strengthening economic cooperation between countries has often been an attempt to stimulate direct investment. If it works, it has a relatively big effect. The disadvantage, however, is that a long preparation time is required and considerable hurdles have to be overcome. A much faster way is to bring together efficient suppliers directly with industrial buyers. Grobosch: “This is exactly what the 4th Western Balkans Purchasing Initiative is all about."

More than 150 companies from the Western Balkan region

"The Western Balkans Purchasing Initiative gives both the countries of this region and the German economy many competitive benefits. Over the past three years, it has enabled more than 1,500 B2B discussions between around 100 German purchasing experts and 250 companies from the Western Balkan region," the BME Managing Director looked back. This year for the first time, the organizers of the one-day event were welcoming suppliers from all countries of the Western Balkans. Companies from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia were selected, evaluated and invited to B2B talks in Frankfurt.

While 125 companies already met the requirements of German buyers in 2016, last year there had already been 135 companies. This year as many as 156 companies from the Western Balkan region were approved for matchmaking. According to Grobosch, this is „a proof of their growing performance".

The BME Managing Director emphasised that the German and European economies face major challenges in the coming years. These included the Brexit, the digital transformation and the resurgence of protectionism. Grobosch: "The rules of the global economy are changing. That is precisely why we need a strong and united Europe." The BME has always advocated free trade, open borders and reliable international business rules and will continue to do so in the future.

Cooperation needed

Grobosch pointed out that the markets are becoming more heterogeneous. Previous universal concepts no longer worked. Instead, markets were increasingly demanding specialized products and services tailored to local needs. At the same time, product life cycles were becoming shorter and shorter. This in turn led to an increased need for innovation. "In order to identify and exploit these trends, many companies work more closely with other competitors. The intensification of cooperation between the companies is also an important task for our members, in which we support them to the best of our ability," emphasized Grobosch. In this context, he also invited companies in the Western Balkans to join the Buyers' Association.

The competitiveness of a company today and in the future no longer depended solely on its own capabilities. Rather, it is more important to identify the best possible partners, to win them over and to bind them to your own company. This applied to a single company as well as to the medium-term competitiveness of European industry and business.

Launched in 2017

After Munich (2015), Dortmund (2016) and Belgrade (2017), the 4th Purchasing Initiative Western Balkans 2018 took place in Germany again. It was jointly organised by the BME on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and the DIHK.

With this year's event in Frankfurt am Main, the Purchasing Initiative Western Balkans came to Hesse for the first time. The project was launched in 2014 as part of the Western Balkans Conference of Economics Ministers of BMWi and representatives of DIHK and BME.

*Frank Rösch, BME, reported on the 4th Purchasing Initiative Western Balkans

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