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Serbia, Trade with the “continent of the future” will continue to grow

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Africa has held the title of “continent of the future” for a full decade now, with projections that its already extremely young population of around 1.3 billion people will double by 2050. In addition, the implementation of “Agenda 2063”, an ambitious plan for the socio-economic transformation of the continent, which is implemented by the intergovernmental organization African Union, which is also working to create a single market through the AfC FTA free trade agreement, is underway.

Political and economic cooperation with African countries is increasingly in the focus of Serbia, so investigated the experiences of local companies on the African market, how the exchange of goods is moving and where the chances lie for expanding cooperation.

Trade between Serbia and African countries in the last few years has recorded an average growth of around 20 percent annually, according to data from the Center for Africa and the Middle East of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Extremely fast growth, however, indicates a low “base” – the exchange with African countries is, as PKS points out , almost negligible in relation to the total international exchange that our country achieves.

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“The share of ‘African’ exchange is lower than one percent, which in the total amount for the year 2022 means slightly more than 700 million dollars, far below the possibilities and interests of both parties,” PKS assesses.

Serbian-African exchange map

We achieve the largest volume of trade cooperation with Algeria, thanks to tobacco.

“Tobacco has contributed to the exceptional growth of Serbian exports in recent years. In the total export of Serbia to Africa, the export of tobacco to Algeria has a share of almost 44 percent”, emphasized the PKS.

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In terms of exports, Serbia has more significant cooperation with Egypt, followed by Tunisia and Morocco, where tobacco is again one of our main export products. When it comes to imports, Serbia imports mostly from South Africa, namely iron ores and concentrates, granite, citrus fruits, and then Egypt, from which we import fertilizers and components for fertilizers, edible fruits and nuts.

“Even though Serbia achieves far greater international cooperation with these countries compared to the rest of Africa, it is still modest, with the existence of a huge space to improve this cooperation. For the export of products, especially food, there are all prerequisites, so that the volume of exports can be intensified, and with indications that a Free Trade Agreement will be concluded with Egypt, significant effects would be achieved in terms of easier export of goods, lower business costs and an overall increase in exchange “, say the Center for Africa and the Middle East, PKS.

Serbian companies in Africa

The most recent example of stepping into the African market was given by the company Nelt, which at the end of 2022 in the capital of Angola, in cooperation with the local company Oxbow, opened a candy factory Candy Factory. 20 million euros were invested in that greenfield project, which was implemented for three years, and the government and development agencies of Angola provided assistance. Our well-known distribution and logistics group in Angola, Zambia and Mozambique has been operating for 12 years, employing around 400 workers.

The company Mozzart has been present in Kenya since 2017, when the first deposit-withdrawal point was opened in a bookmaker in Nairobi. In the meantime, they expanded their business to Nigeria and Ghana.

Chamber of Commerce of Serbia

The company “Sigma” from Crvenka also decided to enter the African market through the establishment of a joint company, which in July of last year signed memorandums of understanding with Egyptian partners on the establishment of a joint company for the production of ecological disinfectants.

“Preparatory activities for the establishment of a joint company in Egypt are currently underway. “Business partners Technical Chemical Laboratories and Rampex, on their part, are carrying out activities on the construction of a new modern production plant in Egypt, while the company ‘Sigma’ is working on the production of technological equipment that will be installed in the production plant,” they sad from that domestic company.

By the way, “Sigma” is the owner of the “Chlorogen” technology, has the C mark for the equipment and is the only one in the country to have an EU certificate that their product is effective against the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

“The joint company will produce and distribute disinfectants based on active chlorine in the territory of the Arab Republic of Egypt, but also throughout Africa and the countries of the Middle East,”.

In the Center for Africa and the Middle East, PKS points out that Serbian companies that want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African market should be ready to face challenges and differences when it comes to doing business on that continent. We will pay attention to this in the second part of the research, in which we will also recall the historical aspect of economic and political cooperation within the Non-Aligned Movement.


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