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Sandzak apparel manufacturers to enter new markets
Apr '11
Seven USAID-supported Serbian textile companies signed a contract to establish their first presence in the 38-million-customer-strong Polish market. The contract with the Polish Prelic Company was signed during one of Poland's largest trade fairs, the Poznan International Trade Fair, March 1-3. During the Fair companies from Sandzak successfully negotiated new contracts valued at $150,000. These apparel manufacturers received orders for a minimum of 500 pieces to be delivered to Polish wholesalers by the end of March. This initial order will be pieced out to many of ASSTEX's members.

With the addition of the Poznan fair sales, PPES-supported companies have now generated nearly $11 million in new sales since 2008 through their participation in trade fairs while opening new markets throughout the region as well as Germany, Russia, Belarus, the Czech Republic and now Poland.

All seven companies are members of Sandzak-based Association of Textile Producers (ASSTEX), a strategic partner of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID has provided these and other ASSSTEX member companies logistic and financial support in the process leading to this contract. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is among the most active supporters of the Serbian apparel industry's expansion into international markets, creating conditions for long-term development of the Serbian economy.

Entry into the Polish market follows a nine-month effort of building business relationships with retailers and wholesalers in Poland, a process led by the USAID Economic Security Program. The program helped representatives from the Polish Embassy in Serbia tour Serbian manufacturers and in October 2010 established the first Trade Mission from Serbia to Poland in more than 20 years.

The USAID Economic Security Team introduced Trade Missions to maximize opportunities at Trade Fairs by having participating companies visit retail and wholesale counterparts months before a Trade Fair. This approach to expanding new market and increasing sales has proven successful in Albania where immediate after-Fair sales grew by 180 percent from 2009 to 2010 and a visit to Bosnia opened markets in Sarajevo for USAID-supported companies for the first time.

As a result of USAID customized business support, apparel and textile manufacturers saw sales growth of 14 percent between 2007 and 2009 (the latest data available) in the midst of the global economic crisis.

Trade Fairs have proven to be a successful tool for USAID-supported companies from Serbia's economically vulnerable regions, South Serbia and Sandzak. Since 2008, companies participating in the Project have generated $10 million in new sales. In 2010 alone, USAID helped 120 companies from these two economically challenged regions enter significant new international markets such as Turkey, Czech Republic, Russia, Belarus, and now Poland.

United States Agency for International Development

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