Serbia has substantially benefited from trade and economic integration with the EU. The EU is traditionally Serbia’s key trading partner accounting for 67% of Serbia’s total exports and more than 60% of Serbia’s total imports of goods in 2018 with similar percentages persisting over the years. The value of Serbian exports to the EU more than tripled from EUR 3.2 billion in 2009 to EUR 10.9 billion in 2018!
Serbia’s exports to the EU have been growing. Furthermore, coverage of imports by exports on the Serbian side vis-a-vis the EU have been improving from below 50% in 2009 to approx. 82% in 2018 (82% of imports from the EU were covered by Serbian exports to the EU).
Individual EUMSs traditionally top the list of Serbia’s most important trade partners in goods, notably Italy and Germany, but also Romania as an important export destination and Hungary as important country of origin for Serbian imports. Serbia exported more than 12% of total goods exports to Italy alone and almost 12% to Germany in 2018. On the import side, Serbia imported more than 13% of all shipments from Germany and another 9% from Italy alone.
Concerning trade in agricultural and food products, Serbia enjoys a surplus vis-a-vis the EU. The surplus reached its peak in 2016 at more than EUR 440 million, but it fell to EUR 201 million in 2018 due drought that affected Serbian agricultural production in 2017..
The significance of the EU market as an export destination for Serbian agricultural produce is considerable, as around half of Serbia’s agricultural exports are shipped to the EU. In 2018, Serbian agricultural exports to the EU accounted for 46% of total agricultural exports. Serbia’s agricultural exports to the EU more than doubled over the past decade, steadily rising from EUR 640 million in 2009 to almost EUR 1.3 billion in 2018. At the same time, Serbian imports of agricultural products from the EU increased from EUR 440 million in 2009 to around EUR 1.1 billion in 2018.
Investment benefits for Serbia
Foreign direct investment coming from the EU accounted for almost 70% of total FDI coming to Serbia over the past nine years, from 2010 until 2018, according to the latest information provided by the National Bank of Serbia. In absolute terms, FDI from the EU countries reached over EUR 13 billion for the past nine years.
Companies from the EU have been the leading investors in Serbia over the previous decade. These companies have brought efficiency, modern technology and know-how into the Serbian economy. This has in turn significantly increased productivity and competitiveness of the Serbian economy, boosting its export potential, increasing budget revenues and generating economic growth. Ultimately, opening up of the Serbian market to companies from the EU has generated a variety of choice and lower prices for consumers.