Mr Ljajić: Arrival of Lidl is important, boosting competitiveness

Without competitiveness there is no efficient market and this is why the arrival of the discount chain Lidl to Serbia is significant, since it boosts competitiveness, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić.

At the opening of the international conference “New Agenda for Competitiveness”, organised by the Committee for protection of competitiveness, Mr Ljajić has said that at the regional level there are around 45 retail chains where the competitiveness is fierce, and that on the national level there is room for new players.

He has added that the participation of modern trade in the retail sector is 30 per cent, while the traditional trade makes 70 per cent.

“It means that we have huge participation of open markets and market stalls in the overall trade”, explained Minister Ljajić.

He has stated that the share of modern trade in Romania, for example, is 47 per cent, in Poland 54, and in Croatia even 68 per cent.

He said that in hypermarket the situation in Serbia is bad, since their participation is only three per cent, while in other countries the figures are more than 10.

He underlined that in Serbia there are no discount chains, while in Poland the share in the market of such chains are more than 30 per cent.

“This is why the arrival of Lidl is important since it will significantly increase the competitiveness” he underlined.

Mr Ljjaić has underlined that before the arrival of IKEA to Serbia, there was a campaign that this chain will close up many factories producing furniture in Serbia, and stated that last year, apart from those allegations, there was an increase of export of furniture by 16 per cent, in the first two months this year it way by 17 per cent, and the production growth was 7 per cent last year.

“It has been demonstrated that there was room on the market for the arrival of this chain. The issue of our furniture manufacturers was not IKEA, but the fact that we export much more timber as raw material, and that they have to import those very raw material for higher prices. That was the key issue for their competitiveness”, says he.

Mr Ljajić says that a similar situation is when it comes to Lidl, underlining that it will certainly bring to a restructuring, changes in the market, and when it comes to the efficiency it will affect the reduction of costs which will be reflected in prices.

“There will be lower prices for different products in the store chains”, Minister is sure.

He has stated that the market of telecommunications is the best example what competitiveness brings along, pointing out there are three big players which “fight” for every single client.

Mr Ljajić has said that the government is working on a new law on protection of competitiveness which has gained best evaluation marks, but he points out the need for the continuation with the harmonisation with EU acquis, and to make other corrections for the benefit of businessmen.

According to his opinion, the role of the government is quite clear – first of all it must create a legal framework, make good laws, which will not be applied selectively, and which contain no discriminatory obstacles.

“Equal start position for all, and then the success of the players on the market depends on their ability. A fair market game is something which is more than necessary, and important for the preservation of the market. The government is an impartial judge which is to give warnings to those violating the regulations, it must not affect the result of the game, but ensure an equal treatment to all the participants”, concluded Mr Ljajic.