EU integrations are a strategic goal of Serbia and our country has progressed a lot on that course, the best evidence of that being the improvement of its international rating, even at the time of the economic crisis. With the arrest of Ratko Mladić some key requirements of Brussels have been met and official Belgrade has been given a new boost in the implementation of reforms, with a view to obtaining a positive opinion of the European Commission on Serbia’s further EU course. More by Zorica Mijušković.
Political reforms have so far prevailed in all the talks between Serbian and European officials, considering Serbia’s Hague Tribunal obligation. The reforms refer to judiciary and public administration. In its latest annual report on Serbia, the European Commission indicated ten major issues on which progress needs to be achieved in order that an affirmative opinion be given in October. What matters as well is the speed of the implementation of economic reforms. Should it want to attract tens of billions of EUR of direct foreign funds to be invested in export-oriented production, the Serbian economy will need a new model of development, which should ensure that exports should exceed 50% of the gross domestic product.
Three fields matter most for the improvement of business setting in Serbia – construction, tax policy and antimonopolist policy. According to Serbian Deputy PM for EU Integrations Božidar Đelić, progress in the construction field has been achieved when it comes to building licences, as the issuing of a licence used to take as many as 279 days and 20 different procedures. Today, this process has been simplified and curtailed and upon adoption of the laws on public property and restitution, the investment framework will be completed. Another issue entails taxes. Serbian business people confront 66 taxation forms, which need to be simplified. A realistic fiscal decentralization, which enables tax competition among local self-rules without encumbering investment business stability is required. Serbia also needs an antimonopolist board with all the required competences. The rules of the game should be clear and consistently applied and everyone infringing the provisions of antimonolist conduct should sustain penalties, says Djelic. Not only Serbia, but the whole world, including developed countries, is facing this problem, he said.
The EU integration efffects are very positive, above all because the EU is Serbia’s top foreign trade partner, Economy and Regional Development Minister Nebojša Ćirić said, adding that Serbia has had a continued growth of exports ever since the Interim Trade Agreement with the EU took effect three years ago. An export growth of 32.5% was realized in 2010, whereas imports increased by 8.2%, which is an indication of systemic changes going on within the Serbian economy, he said.
However, radical changes, which Serbian economy requires, are feasible only through reindustrialization and an export-oriented production. The first step towards that goal is consent within the government, but also within the economic sector, on the need of essential reforms within the business setting, in order that the Serbian economy could become an equitable and respectable partner in the distribution of profit in the international market.