According to the relevant data, the total French investments in Serbia have almost reached a billion euros, and there are over 100 companies in Serbia with the French capital. These companies employ over 10,000 workers in Serbia. The external trade between Serbia and France has been growing year-on-year, in both directions, by around 20%. Despite the economic crisis, the external trade has never stopped growing since 2009, and in 2014, its value reached EUR 750.4 million.
WHAT ARE THE TWO COUNTRIES TRADING IN?
Trading in goods is the dominant form of economic cooperation between Serbia and France. France is the 10th biggest export partner of Serbia. In terms of imports, France occupied the 10th place in the past five years. The following are the most important products exported in the the last period: fruits and fruit-based products except juices, vehicle tires, trailers and semi-trailers, furniture and parts, parts and accessories for motor vehicles, liquid pumps, copper, rotary electrical machines, assemblies and parts, women’s coats, aluminum, and hydrocarbons and derivatives.
WHO ARE THE MAIN ‘PLAYERS’?
The French have never stopped investing in Serbia. Economic cooperation has been on the rise every year since 2009 and an increasing number of French companies have been coming to this market, in cooperation with the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. For example, one of the French plans is to participate in the concession deal for Nikola Tesla Airport. Four consortia and one company have sent their binding bids for the airport concession. They are the Swiss-French consortium (Meridiam Eastern Europe Investments, Zurich Airport and Eiffage), the Indian-Greek Consortium (GMR Infrastructure Limited and Terna), the French company Vinci Airports, the South Korean-Turkish-Cypriot consortium (Incheon International Airport Corporation, Yatirimlari ve Islatme, and VTB Capital Infrastructure), and the Chinese consortium (HNA and China National Aero-Technology).
Many other French companies are expanding their capacities in Serbia too. There is a positive example of the French investment in Kikinda, where the Le Belier Company is currently advertising several new job positions including accountants, engineers, technicians and project managers. For some time now, Tigar Tires has been keeping the Pirot area economically alive, following the French Michelin taking over the company. One of the most successful examples is definitely the Beočin Cement Plant which was acquired by Lafarge back in the day. Now, the Swiss company Holcim runs the plant. We don’t need to specially introduce another French company, Schneider Electric, and its latest innovations in the field of electrical engineering and energy, on top of all the integrated applications as a result of these innovations. We definitely have to mention the legendary Renault which was very popular in the former Yugoslavia, and has not lost its appeal even today. The company is present in the Serbian market along with other big automotive players. Le Belier, which manufactures aluminum parts for cars, has long decided that Serbia would be of the countries to invest in. In order to increase its production capacity and move closer to its biggest clients, Le Belier has been gradually establishing international presence since 1994. Today, Le Belier is present on three continents with 10 production locations: France, Hungary and Serbia in Europe; Mexico in Central America, and China in Asia. And there are many other French companies – Maltinex, L’Oreal Balkan, Sanofi…