Serbia merging with the Middle East

Economic cooperation and support between the Republic of Serbia and the United Arab Emirates never better

The United Arab Emirates is an open economy characterized by its high value of GDP per capita and a large surplus. Thanks to the government’s efforts, economic diversification has reduced the economy’s reliance on oil and gas, which today accounts for only 25% of total GDP, with a shift in the economy to aluminium production, tourism, telecommunications, information technology and renewable energy.

Economic cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the available data from the Republic Bureau of Statistics, states that in the period between January-December 2019, the total foreign trade exchange with the UAE amounted to 162.9 million dollars. During this period, Serbia exported goods worth 135 million dollars to the UAE, and imported goods worth 27.9 million dollars. As of November 2020, trade in goods decreased by 23.6%, compared to the same period in 2019, while exports decreased by 27.27% compared to 2019.

Products that have the high potential for export to this market include: automatic circuit breakers for voltages less than 1000 volts, which, according to preliminary data for 2019, the UAE imported over 130 million USD. Fruit trade, especially with fresh apples, but also with frozen berries, due to the characteristics of the fruit itself and the length of transport, but within the fruit group, plums, peaches, and nectarines create products with significant potential, which are obtained by processing these fruits. Once pneumatic tires for passenger vehicles and trucks are added up to fruits, according to preliminary data for 2019, the UAE imported over a billion USD of these products, overweighing slightly more on the truck tires, representing a large market for these products. The UAE also imports various plastic products from Serbia, boxes and crates, accessories for pipes and noises, floor coverings, lids, and shutters. In the furniture sector, wooden furniture has significant potential to increase its trade.

“In the period between January-December 2019, Serbia had a total foreign trade exchange with the UAE that amounted to 162.9 million dollars.”

In general, various ready-to-eat food products have great potential, as well as vegetables. The UAE imports large quantities of peppers, it is a question of price competitiveness of Serbian peppers on this market, but due to specific varieties of red peppers as well as pepper processing products, this product will be in demand on the UAE market. Further potential is allocated to textile products, specifically undershirts, T-shirts, and other similar goods. There is significant competition with Turkey, which is even closer to the UAE. Furthermore, there are also different types of cheeses, according to preliminary data, the UAE in 2019, imported cheeses worth over 140 million USD. Potentials for export of construction joinery and other products for wood construction were recorded. The United Arab Emirates is a promising market for the export of chicken eggs, walnuts, cranberries, blueberries and frozen and dried vegetables.

Back in the previous decades, Serbia had relatively modest cooperation with the United Arab Emirates. However, since October 2012, thanks to high amounts of successful meetings, new momentum was gained, and the UAE became one of the most important economic partners of Serbia among the Arab Gulf countries and the Middle East in general. For that reason, the Chamber of Commerce of Abu Dhabi expressed interest in opening a representative office in Belgrade, based on a bylaw of the Minister of Economy, which regulates the procedure of registration of representative offices of foreign chambers in the Republic of Serbia, which began to apply on March 4, 2016. In the past period, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce has realized a whole series of events for the purpose of connecting business people from both countries.

“Serbian companies participated in the International Food Fair named Gulfood 2020, organized by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Serbian Development Agency”

In July 2019, Chamber of Commerce in Serbia, in agreement with Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce, began preparations for the opening of Serbian Commerce offices in Dubai. Marko Selaković was appointed the representative of the Serbian Chamber in Dubai. On March 24th and 25th, of 2019, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry paid an official visit to the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, within the project “Serbia-country in focus”, which is being implemented with the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Dubai.

In August 2013, the Ministry in charge of construction and infrastructure of the Republic of Serbia signed a Memorandum on Investment in Infrastructure with the company “Global Capital Advisers Management” from the UAE, which provides for the establishment of a joint venture for financing and development of industrial and infrastructure projects in Serbia. in the field of agriculture, tourism, housing, road infrastructure, as well as the implementation of a specific project – such as Cargo Center Ladevci.

The first session of the Joint Committee for Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Government of the United Arab Emirates was held in Belgrade, on April 8th and 9th, of 2019. The co-chairs of the Committee are, his excellency, Mr. Siniša Mali, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Serbia and, his excellency Mr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Member of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

By Mina Vučić

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