Region of Western Balkan includes 7 countries that have emerged from former Yugoslavia. These countries are Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and the youngest European country – Kosovo. The population of this region is about 20 million people, the smallest country is Montenegro with population about 600.000 people, and the largest is Serbia with population about 7,1 million people.
After the war that took place in that region from 1991 – 95, the region is now very stable and perspective to invest and expand your business. GDP per capita in region vary from 19.576 EUR in Slovenia, to 3.343 EUR in Kosovo.
In this article we will focus on Serbia, the greatest former Yugoslav republic with an area of 77.474 km2, and population about 7,1 million people. Capital city of Serbia is Belgrade with population of almost 1,7 million. GDP per capita in 2017 was 5.273 EUR, and domestic currency in Serbia is Serbian dinar (RSD).
Serbia has a good geographical position, with a lot of quality agricultural land, mines, thermal water, mountains, wood, orchards and pastures. It borders some countries from European Union (EU) – Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, and Bosnia – Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Serbia has a good political and economic relation with neighbour countries.
Politics has been focusing for the last ten years on EU membership, and at the same time into a good political and economic relations with Russian Federation. Serbia is the only country, beside some of the former Soviet Union countries, which has a Simple trade agreement with Russian Federation. This Agreement is very important for Serbian economy, especially nowadays, when there are sanctions between EU and Russia. Since the beginning of the sanctions, companies from EU which export their products on Russian market, starts to move their production into Serbia. Agreement between Serbia and Russia includes only products which are made in Serbia or Russia. Protocol which is included in Agreement defines the meaning of the country of the origin of the product, and which products are excluded from the Agreement. Protocol defines that products which have undergone sufficient working or processing in Serbia can be imported in Russian Federation. The product is considered to be subjected to sufficient working or processing if it has materials included in this process originating in other countries less than 50% of the value of the product. Products which are excluded from the Agreement are defined in List of annexes no. 1 and 2. List of products may be reviewed each year, so company which want to expand their business to Serbian market because of Agreement with Russia, should check the list of products before starting the production.
Serbia has also very good relations with EU, and from the March 2012 Serbia has the candidate country status. On 21st of January 2014, the first Intergovernmental Conference took place, signalling the formal start of Serbia's accession negotiations. On 29th of April 2008 Serbia and EU signed Stabilization and Association Agreement which means easier trade between Serbia and EU. Agreement is fully implemented from 1st of September 2013 and since then there is a free import possible for products and services from EU, but there are still some exceptions. Products which are excluded from Agreement are all types of meet, yogurt, butter, certain types of cheese, honey, some types of vegetables, and flour. The reason is that Serbia wants to protect domestic producers.
With the goal of economic development Serbia made a lot of reforms of economy system, business environment has changed, and now it is better for business, government gives subventions and credits for business. Advantage of doing business in Serbia is favourable tax politics – income tax for companies is 15%, VAT tax is 20%, income tax for individuals is 10%. Advantage for new investors is also cheap and educated workers, minimal gross salary is about 286 EUR.
Serbian Chamber of Commerce recommended the following areas to invest:
- Agriculture (production and export). There are 3,5 million of hectares land for cultivation, and ¾ of this land is agricultural land. Advantages are small use of pesticides in comparison to other European countries, a good climate and tradition.
- Spa tourism, there are many unexploited natural resources and opportunities to buy spa complexes. Qualified workers with good knowledge of English language and lower labour costs in comparison with region present advantage in investment in this area.
- Business services.
- Manufacturing, for investment in industry there are many subventions which depend on the type of industry, level of investment, and number of new jobs.
In Serbia there is each year a lot of agricultural land offered on a loan by Administration of agricultural land from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management. Right now, average price is 197,03 EUR per hectare per year.
In 2017 Ministry for Tourism, Trade and Telecommunications decide to sell spa complexes because they are in neglected state and government does not have enough sources to its renewal. Idea of Ministry is to sell each centre separated or to make private-public partnership between investor and government. There are more than thirty centres which can be activated, and this area of investment is very interested because Balkan area is pretty safe and stable and number of tourists is rising each year.
The most profitable companies in Serbia are information technology companies. There are around 2000 companies registered and there is still potential to made good business in this area. In Belgrade there is Scientific and technological park which has a goal to improve export of high technological products and services. Park is a centre where are gathered domestic and foreign technology companies and professors and students from technological faculties. Technological park in Belgrade is the best place to start business in this area because there is arranged business environment, potential business partners and workers.
Statistically, foreign investments are directed in real estate, renewable resources of energy, food and tobacco industry, financial services and auto industry. A few years there is active the biggest construction project in Serbia called Belgrade on water. Project is invested by United Arab Emirates and Serbian Government.
In energetics there are two projects active about producing energy from geothermal sources. This project has been made by Faculty of Mining and Geology from Belgrade in cooperation with their colleagues from France and Hungary and supported by government of Vojvodina and Serbia. Until now there are three locations found where geothermal plants can be built, this are Sombor, Sremska Mitrovica and Kikinda.
Big companies which are already presented in Serbian market are: FCA, Bosch, Michelin, Siemens, Panasonic, NCR, Yura, Magna, Continental, Calzedonia, Eaton, Stada, Falke, Swarovski, Ball Packaging, Sitel, Microsoft, Gorenje, Schneider Electric, Geox, Tarkett, Johnson Controls, Johnson Electric, Leoni, and many others.
We offer you a wide range of services when entering the Serbian market. Please, use the promo code "PROMO-NEW-MARKETS" in all correspondence with us and you will receive a 5% discount when ordering the services of Borli Ltd.
In Borli Ltd company from Slovenia, we can provide you with information about interesting areas for investment in Serbia, we can establish for you a company in Serbia, or we can connect you with our business partners in Serbian market. Please, contact Mrs Natalija Tokanović for more information, e-mail: and enter the promo code "PROMO-NEW-MARKETS" into the subject of your e-mail.
Natalija Tokanović, LL.M.
A lawyer Natalija Tokanović is the director of Borli Ltd with years of experience in legal services and working in a law firm. She specializes in commercial law in the areas of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she has a large number of business contacts.
She advises clients on entering the market of Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina, helps in establishing contacts in new markets, prepares and coordinates contracts, offers, general conditions, helps or advises when opening companies or branches in those countries, and directs customers to partner law offices, etc.