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There is no Serbian economy without the European Union

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At the moment, Serbia does not have an economy without the European Union (EU), the executive director of the Council of Foreign Investors, Aleksandar Ljubić, said today, stating that foreign investors come to Serbia because of the workforce, infrastructure, energy sources and a predictable business environment.

Ljubić, at the “Europe is returning home, is it an opportunity for Serbia” forum of Business Info Group, stated that every company likes a predictable business environment, political stability, reminding that the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine have left their mark on doing business in Europe .

The majority of investors come from the EU, Serbia does all its business trade exclusively with the Union and there is no other way or alternative for doing business. The European Union and the rapprochement with the EU are very necessary for the sake of stability and the preservation of investments, Ljubić emphasized.

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The director of the Center for Advanced Economic Studies, Nemanja Šormaz, presented that Serbia “has multiple business environments”, explaining that there are different business conditions for foreign investors, public and state enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises in Serbia.

Serbia had a record level of foreign investments last year, he added and pointed out that the conditions in which foreign investors operate speak for themselves that in the year before the pandemic, they had only three disputes in the country, while in Montenegro, which is incomparably smaller, there were 14 disputes.

Foreign investors come for labor, cheap energy sources and subsidies, pointed out Šormaz, reminding that Serbia always offers “a dollar or a euro more”.

Šormaz explained that there is constant talk about subsidizing jobs, but foreign companies sometimes see that money as a guarantee from the state that it will be a reliable partner in the process.

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When it comes to the business of small and medium-sized companies, he pointed out that it is a “grotesque and labyrinth of administration”, which would not exist if it were foreign companies.

Šormaz presented that this year a record amount of 200 million euros was approved for subsidies to foreign companies, while between 30 and 40 million was allocated for domestic ones.

The low level of domestic investments of eight or nine percent is far below what is needed for economic growth, Šormaz said.

Nebojša Bjelotomić, in front of the Digital Serbia initiative, said that there are currently 100,000 workers in the Serbian IT industry, half of whom are programmers.

Every year, between 7,000 and 8,000 people enter that sector, he said, adding that because of the war in Ukraine, about 10,000 people from Russia and Ukraine entered the country with their jobs.

They did not affect the labor market in terms of hiring people, jobs, but it can be seen in terms of the salaries they are given, which are spent here, said Bjelotomić.

Professor of the Faculty of Economics, Predrag Bjelic, said that domestic capital should be the engine of the economy, and foreign capital as a supplement, which is not the case in Serbia now.

Foreign companies are far more efficient and the key is for us to see how to “spill over” that efficiency to domestic companies, he believes.

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