Dialogue between the State and Business

Online working meeting of five bilateral business associations with the Ministry of Finance and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia

On Tuesday, May 25th, 2021, an online working meeting of member companies of five bilateral business associations in Serbia: the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia, Croatian Business Club, Slovenian Business Club and the Belgian-Serbian Business Association was held with representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia. During the meeting “Macroeconomic developments in Serbia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”, Ognjen Popović, Acting Assistant Minister – Financial System Department, and Mihailo Vesović, Director of the Sector for Strategic Analysis, Services and Internationalization at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS) addressed the participants and presented the current and the expected trends in the Serbian economy.

Mr. Popović stated that the total value of the economic measures in 2020 amounted to 12.9 % of GDP and that the third support package in 2021 is estimated at 4.5 % of GDP. Ognjen Popović pointed out that one of the main objectives of the economic measures is to preserve financial capacity and liquidity, especially within the SME sector, and that the main goal of the responsible fiscal policy implemented by the Ministry of Finance is to mitigate the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to enable the further sustainable development of the Serbian economy. Three key reform objectives of the Ministry of Finance are the new Law on Digitalization,

e-invoices and amendments to the laws regulating the financial system. Mr. Popović concluded his presentation by noting that the communication between the state and the business is essential for finding strategies for further improvement of the domestic business environment.

Mr. Vesović presented the key macroeconomic data of the Serbian economy – in the first quarter of 2021, the estimated growth of Serbia’s GDP is 1.2% and that Serbia is the only Western Balkans country expected to recover from the pandemics already in 2021. When it comes to foreign trade, Mr. Vesović emphasized that Serbia’s overall exports in 2020 are only slightly lower compared to the previous year: by approximately 3% and that Serbia, during the first quarter of 2021, recorded an increase in exports by 13.8% compared to the same quarter last year.

He especially emphasized that the services sector has been one of the main driving forces of the country’s economic recovery during the pandemic. In 2020, a surplus of around 1.1 billion euros was recorded in the foreign trade within this sector. Vesović also pointed out an increasing contribution of the rapid development in the field of ICT services to this trade surplus.

After the presentations, representatives of the gathered member companies were given the opportunity to ask questions and get answers directly from the representatives of the state bodies.

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