- Basic data
- Public finances and the state budget
- Banking system
- Tax system
According to cheeroutdoor.com, the Serbian economy ranks among small economies, with lower competitiveness and dependence on the external environment. Two thirds of exports go to the EU. The good diversification of the Serbian economy and the high share of the manufacturing industry are positive. The Serbian national economy has been growing in recent years. The country has made significant progress in the area of privatization and macroeconomic stability. In 2012, Serbia obtained the status of a candidate for EU membership, and joining the EU is also a priority goal of the current government.
Despite the economic crisis in the world caused by the covid-19 pandemic, Serbia has managed to maintain production capacities and prevent a significant decline in the country’s economy. The real GDP decline in 2020 was only -1.1%, and in 2021 GDP grew strongly by 7.5%, which is one of the best results in Europe. The favorable structure of the economy and the increased sectoral and geographical diversification of exports achieved in previous years continue to contribute to the resilience of Serbian exports and the overall economy. The received economic state support (billion euros, approx. 13% of GDP in 2020) minimized the decline in GDP in 2020, while an additional package of billion euros (4.2% of GDP) in 2021 contributed to further growth GDP and return to the path of sustainable growth.
Unemployment is around 10%.
According to the announcement of the National Bank of Serbia, average inflation in 2021 reached 4.0% on a year-on-year basis. However, in March 2022, inflation was 9.1%. Almost 3/4 of year-on-year inflation was caused by factors that monetary policy cannot influence to a greater extent – food and energy prices. In order to maintain the relative stability of the exchange rate of the Serbian currency against the euro, the National Bank of Serbia sold a net of EUR 605 million on the interbank foreign exchange market in February alone, and a total net of EUR 945 million since the beginning of the year. Therefore, the exchange rate of the Serbian dinar has been practically fixed against the European currency (EUR) for more than 2 years. In 2021, a current account deficit of EUR 2.34 billion (-4.4% of GDP) was recorded with continued high inflows of foreign direct investment (EUR billion). The share of public debt to GDP in December 2021 was 56.9% of GDP.
Thanks to production and geographic diversification and pro-export-oriented investments, Serbia’s foreign trade exchange in euros achieved growth of 25.5% year-on-year in 2021. Exports of goods expressed in euros were worth 21.620 billion, which is an increase of 26.8% compared to the same period in 2020. Imports of goods were worth 28.601 billion, which is 24.6% more than in 2020. Expressed in euros, the deficit amounts to 6.980 billion, which represents a year-on-year increase of 18.3%. The coverage of imports by exports is 75.6% and is higher than in the same period of 2020, when it was 74.3%. EU member states account for 60.3% of Serbia’s total trade.
The total export value of the 15 largest exporters was EUR billion. The first place was taken by the Chinese ironworks HBIS Group – Smederevo Steelworks with exports of EUR 75million, followed by Zijin Bor copper smelters (EUR 750.3 million) and tire factory Tigar Tires Pirot (EUR 430.3 million). The oil companies NIS exported products in the amount of EUR 48million, and the export of the Henkel Srbija plant amounted to EUR 369.9 million. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Serbia exported a total of EUR 28million.
|GDP growth (%)||4.3||-1.1||7.5||3.5||4.0|
|Export of goods (billion USD)||19.6||19.6||25.9||28||29.3|
|Import of goods (billion USD)||26.7||26.2||33.9||36.6||38.2|
|Trade Balance (Billion USD)||-6.3||-1.9||-2.3||-2.5||-7.9|
|Industrial production (% change)||0.2||0.2||4.9||3.2||3.2|
|OECD export risk||4/7||4/7||4/7||ON||ON|
Source: EIU, OECD, IMD, SSO
Public finance and state budget
|State budget balance (% of GDP)||-2|
|Public debt (% of GDP)||56.9|
|Current account balance (billion USD)||-2.8|
In its report dated February 25, 2022, Fitch Ratings affirmed Serbia’s credit rating at BB+ level with stable prospects for further increases. The report states that strong growth in economic activity and growth in tax revenues, with the gradual lifting of government measures to support the economy, influenced the reduction of the treasury deficit, which amounted to 4.2% of GDP in 2021. Responsible economic policy in previous years and good economic results, achieved in the pre-pandemic period and maintained during the covid-19 pandemic, led to stable and sustainable public finances, thereby significantly mitigating the effects of the crisis in the Republic of Serbia.
The 2022 budget and relevant implementing laws were approved by the Serbian Parliament on 23 November 2021. The budget envisages a 3% deficit and significant capital investment spending. Public revenues in the amount of RSD 1,51billion are planned in the state coffers, while expenditures are RSD 1,717 billion. Planned revenues are 1.9% higher than in 2021. The budget is based on projected GDP growth of 4.5%.
The banking system of the Republic of Serbia is built on a standard model. There is one state central bank (National Bank of Serbia-NBS) and a number of commercial banks. Commercial banks carry out their activities independently and under the supervision of the state banking supervision.
The largest and most important commercial banks in Serbia include Komercijalna banka, Banca Intesa, Raiffeisen Banka, UniCredit, Eurobank. In March 2017, Expobank CZ, headed by Russian investor Igor Kim, bought Marfin Bank in Serbia, which until now belonged to Cyprus Popular Bank. The Serbian financial house being sold (originally Centrobanka) was founded in 1990 and, after the acquisition by the Cypriot side, has been operating since 2008 under the name Marfin Bank Beograd. The bank has 18 branches in Belgrade and other regions of Serbia and a market share of less than 1%. Its shares are traded on the Belgrade Stock Exchange.
Another investment entry was the acquisition of the PPF Group into Telenor Bank (now Mobi Banka) in 2019. The transaction was part of the acquisition of telecommunications assets of the operator Telenor in Central and Eastern Europe, namely in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia. Telenor Banka was part of the Telenor Group, which acquired it in 2013 from KBC Bank Serbia. In September 2014, it was renamed Telenor Bank, and since October 2019 it has been operating as Mobi Banka. This bank specializes in innovative online financial services and was the first in Serbia to introduce mobile and internet banking. Mobi Banka provides its services mainly to Telenor customers and currently has more than 400,000 clients.
Below is a brief description of the most important taxes in Serbia.
Corporate income tax Corporate income tax is 15%.
Personal income tax The tax rate on salaries is 10%. Other personal income is taxed at a rate of 20%. Non-resident natural persons are taxed only on income on the territory of the RS. The taxpayer is entitled to a tax credit for the amount he has already paid abroad. The annual tax rate on the income of foreign citizens is 10% if their income exceeds 6 average salaries in Serbia, otherwise 15%.
Tax on dividends and interest is 15%.
Value added tax (VAT) is paid at every level of sales of goods and services and export of goods. The tax base is the price of sold products and services, which does not include VAT. Standard VAT is 20% and is charged in most cases. The reduced rate of VAT is 8% and is charged on basic foodstuffs, daily newspapers, communal services, etc. VAT is not paid in the case of export of goods and in the field of international air transport.
Property tax for taxpayers who have a business account is 0.40%, and for other taxpayers the tax varies depending on the tax base. A tax rate of 2.5% is charged in case of transfer of property rights. Fees for the transfer of certain rights The fee rate (tax) for the transfer of so-called absolute rights (a mixture of various rights, including the transfer of intellectual property rights) is proportional and amounts to 0.3% for the transfer of shares, bonds and guarantees of legal entities and for the transfer of other absolute rights is 2.5%.
Tax holidays: Businesses can be exempted from paying corporate income tax if they take on at least 100 new employees.