The COVID-19 pandemic has further solidified the relations between Serbia and Italy
Italy and Serbia are friendly countries that have exceptionally good bilateral and economic relations. This was also demonstrated in difficult times for both nations during the coronavirus pandemic. Help came from both sides.
Although both hit by an invisible enemy, the two countries managed to preserve economic cooperation, so in the first seven months of 2020, the external trade between the two countries amounted to EUR 1.8 billion. This figure is slightly lower than the one from last year, but given the impact of the epidemic on the European economy, we can be very satisfied with the value of our external trade. The peak of economic relations was in 2018 when an impressive EUR 4 billion was generated from the trade between Italy and Serbia. These figures are not surprising given that Italy is one of the largest investors in the Serbian economy. So far, Italian companies have invested about three billion euros and employed the entire population of an average Serbian town, or 26,000.
Although both hit by an invisible enemy, the two countries managed to preserve economic cooperation, so in the first seven months of 2020, the external trade between the two countries amounted to EUR 1.8 billion.
At the beginning of this year, before the outbreak of the crisis caused by the coronavirus, an Agreement on Cooperation on Economic, Social and Cultural Development was signed with the Italian region of Veneto. On the occasion, the Serbian officials pointed out that they were interested in continuing cooperation in the field of innovative technologies and investments of small and medium-sized enterprises from Veneto, a region that has proven to be a leader in this field in Italy. In addition, several Serbian and Italian cities have been twinned at the local level, which represents a significant social and economic potential and provides an opportunity to get to know our peoples better and facilitate exchange between local cultures.
Help in the most difficult moments
The coronavirus-induced crisis has further strengthened the relations between Serbia and Italy, although both countries were hit hard. During the pandemic period, Belgrade sent help to Rome in the form of medical equipment as an expression of Serbia’s gratitude for the help and support that Italy had given Serbia earlier. During the shipment of medical equipment to be used in the treatment of coronavirus patients, the President of Serbia said that our country has always had Italy’s support in the EU and that that country was among the first to send aid to Serbia during the 2014 floods. A total of two million surgical masks, two million epidemiological masks, one million pairs of gloves and 100,000 hazmat suits were sent to Italy. Also, Italy is one of the most important trade partners of Serbia. Italian companies employ tens of thousands of people in Serbia, and many Serbian citizens work in Italy.
Serbia sent a total of two million surgical masks, two million epidemiological masks, one million pairs of gloves and 100,000 hazmat suits to Italy.
Italy repaid Serbia by sending a five-member medical team on a special flight, who, based on the experience gained during the five-month fight against the COVID-19 virus in Italy, provided assistance to their Serbian counterparts. The five-member medical team consisted of two anesthesiologists, one emergency physician, an infectious disease specialist, a surgeon and a medical technician. The members of the Italian medical team, who was engaged by the Italian Civil Protection Department, came from different Italian regions: Piedmont, Lazio and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. With this initiative, Italy wants to once again highlight the importance of its friendship with Serbia, the exceptional level of bilateral cooperation, as well as to respond to the generous assistance that Serbia sent to the Italian people in April this year.
This is not all. Serbian Foreign Minister, Ivica Dačić, visited Italy in June, and this was his first visit to a foreign country after the pandemic. The visit was a reflection of the great friendship and respect between Serbia and Italy. He met with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio during the visit. The two foreign ministers discussed bilateral relations and economic co-operation.