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Surplus in Serbian services trade: Insights from 2022 and 2023

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Serbia’s trade balance in services has shown a surplus for both 2022 and 2023, according to preliminary data from the National Bank of Serbia (NBS). In 2022, Serbia exported services worth €11.08 billion while importing €8.8 billion. The surplus grew even larger in 2023, with exports totaling €13.08 billion and imports at €10.06 billion. Nearly half of the “imports” of services into Serbia consist of remittances, or personal and family transfers.

Remittances have seen a slight year-on-year decrease, with €5.03 billion flowing into Serbia in 2022 and around €4.99 billion in the following year. During the same periods, personal transfers from Serbia to abroad were €399 million and €396 million, respectively.

This inflow from individuals has been at similar or higher levels compared to foreign direct investment (FDI) over the past decade. FDI reached €4.43 billion in 2022 and €4.52 billion in the previous year.

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The most significant contributions to the trade surplus in services come from two categories: Telecommunications, computer, and information services, totaling €3.5 billion, with computer services alone accounting for €2.1 billion within this group.

Software development services contribute the most substantial individual surplus, with Serbia importing only €708 million in the same year.

The second major contributor to the surplus is “Other business services,” with “Professional and management consulting” being the top-performing area within this segment. Serbia exported €1.7 billion in these services in 2022 and €2.2 billion in the following year, while importing €934 million and €1.3 billion, respectively.

The field of “Research and development” within this group has seen a slight increase, with exports of €214 million in 2022 and €245 million in the previous year, while imports were €78 million and €91 million, respectively.

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One area that underperformed compared to 2022 is tourism. Unlike the surplus of €118 million in tourism services in that year, Serbia experienced a deficit of €524 million in 2023 in the balance of payments for services.

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