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Serbia’s trade dynamics: Russia no longer among top partners

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Recent data from the Republic Institute of Statistics (RZS) indicate a significant shift in Serbia’s trading relationships, with Russia no longer ranking among its top five trading partners. This marks a notable departure from previous years when Russia played a prominent role in Serbia’s import market, primarily due to gas imports. The latest statistics underscore evolving trade dynamics and prompt reflections on Serbia’s international orientation.

During the first quarter of 2024, Germany solidified its position as Serbia’s leading trade partner, both in terms of exports and imports. Other key export destinations for Serbia include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, China, and Hungary, while top import sources are Germany, China, Italy, Hungary and Turkey.

Notably, the bulk of Serbia’s foreign trade is with countries that have free trade agreements with it, with European Union member states comprising 61.1 percent of total trade in the first quarter of 2024.

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While Russia’s economic and trade influence in Serbia has waned, it continues to exert diplomatic and political influence. Russia’s support for Serbia’s stance on Kosovo and its utilization of historical and religious ties help maintain its sway in the region.

In terms of export products, Serbia’s top five include guide sets for aircraft, vehicles, and ships; refined copper; copper ore and concentrate; electricity; and new outer tires for cars.

However, Serbia faces economic challenges due to the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone, impacting its economic growth. Despite this, Serbia managed a growth rate of 2.5 percent last year, with expectations of further growth to 3.5 percent this year. Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Serbia, Željko Jović, anticipates GDP growth between four and five percent in the coming years, fueled by ongoing investment cycles and projects outlined in “Leap into the Future – Serbia 2027.”

Jović highlights the significant increase in exports, particularly in services, which reached 41 billion euros or 60 percent of GDP. This surge in exports has contributed to a relatively low balance of payments deficit of 2.6 percent, further underlining Serbia’s evolving economic landscape.

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