Strong Support for the Serbian Economy

The CCIS conducts numerous activities aimed at improving the internationalisation of business and export support

Despite the crisis and numerous changes in the global market, Serbian economy shows resilience, and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce helps it the most. We spoke with Bojan Stanić, Assistant Director, Strategic Analysis & Data of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS), about numerous topics, the survival of the economy in times of crisis, international cooperation and the development of the IT industry.

In times of crisis, like this one, it becomes apparent that small, family businesses are the healthiest segment of the economy. Do you agree with this and how does the Serbian Chamber of Commerce help small family businesses and entrepreneurs?

Family companies are the oldest and most common form of economic entities in the world. In many countries, they represent more than 70% of the total number of companies and play a key role in the growth of the economy and the employment of the workforce. They are the main driver of growth in many economies, but due to their nature, they face numerous problems, some of which can be solved by adopting an appropriate corporate governance structure, which should define the roles, responsibilities, rights and interaction between the main management bodies of the company. They can be entrepreneurial businesses, small and medium-sized companies that can survive thanks to a long period of operation and become large conglomerates. The exact number of family companies in our country is not known, because there is no accepted definition of family companies. The fact is that the majority of family companies have a very short lifespan after the founding phase and almost 95% of family companies don’t survive the third generation of ownership.

The Assembly of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce adopted the Corporate Governance Code before 2000, which has undergone changes since then. As part of the services and various training concepts that the CCIS organises for its members, numerous topics and areas are covered that support the finding of solutions for the numerous challenges these companies face, from strategic business development, introduction of CRM, development of business models, through staff development to digitisation and numerous other areas of business that are a challenge in modern conditions and the foundation of long-term operations.

Connecting the domestic economy with foreign partners usually happens directly, but the role of the CCIS should not be overlooked. In what ways can the CCIS help our businesspeople reach foreign customers, suppliers and associates?

The CCIS conducts numerous activities aimed at improving the internationalisation of business and export support, increasing the number of exporters, opening new export markets, solving non-tariff barriers, initiating new bilateral agreements and improving the business climate. In this regard, we cooperate with numerous partner institutions abroad, diplomatic and consular missions, both in our country and abroad, various business associations, but also with representative offices of the CCIS abroad, of which there are 8 (Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Russian Federation, Israel, United Arab Emirates, China).

Participation in fairs abroad. During this year, 2023, we took our businesspeople to 20 fairs (Germany, Spain, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation…), with the tendency for this number to increase in the coming year. By participating in events, in our organisation, businesspeople get the opportunity to make direct contact with customers, suppliers and retail chains at significantly lower costs.

Serbia’s total foreign trade commodity exchange in the period January – September 2023 amounted to 48.7 billion euros


Participation in business meetings during the visits of foreign delegations: this is a format that also enables businesspeople to have direct contact with the most important business entities from abroad who, often, come as part of state delegations. During this year, meetings were held with businesspeople from Turkey, China, Italy, Romania, Norway, Hungary, Ohio, Uganda…

Organising business delegations from Serbia to foreign markets: in order to improve further cooperation, but also to open new markets, this year, we took businesspeople to: India, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Kenya, China, Tirana. These visits have resulted in successful business ventures that will lead to our stronger presence in Kenya, for example, bearing in mind that Africa is gaining more and more importance in our business community as well. In the coming period, we will place special emphasis on intensifying activities with China and the United Arab Emirates, bearing in mind the Free Trade Agreements (signed with China, expected with the Emirates soon).

The development of the IT industry in Serbia is impressive. Do the activities of the CCIS change in accordance with the market changes and how does the chamber respond to the demands of modern industries?

In response to the challenges of the global digitisation trend, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ), established the Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT) as an instrument to support micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the process of digital transformation. The CDT makes it possible to respond to all the challenges of digitisation of the economy in an efficient and transparent way, through education, consulting, as well as creating strategic partnerships with technology carriers, on the one hand, and companies that would apply these solutions in their operations, on the other. The project to establish and develop the Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT) is supported by both the German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO). In five years of operation, the CDT has interested nearly three thousand companies to join CDT programmes, and a significant number have implemented technological solutions developed through consulting with CDT certified consultants (68 consultants have been trained and certified according to the ISO 17024 standard). The specialised online Digital Academy is an interactive platform intended primarily for the education of owners and managers in micro, small and medium-sized businesses in Serbia, who want to improve their knowledge and skills in the domain of digital transformation.

How was the Serbian market transformed after the pandemic? Are there visible and significant changes and how do you explain them?

The pandemic of 2020 brought a large number of new challenges to the business community in the Republic of Serbia. Consolidation of the market, greater flexibility and elasticity of companies, efficiency in making strategic decisions have become priorities in responding to the key challenges that arise in the coming years. On the Serbian market, increased competitiveness of companies is noticeable, and it is reflected in the efforts of companies to no longer do business in the so-called “comfort zone”, but that they must be more innovative and efficient each day than they were before. This is supported by a large number of challenges facing consumers, such as the pronounced price competition caused by high inflationary pressures, which force companies to adapt their offer as much as possible to consumers and end customers.

The European Union is traditionally Serbia’s largest foreign trade partner


Are there any interesting changes when it comes to foreign trade cooperation? Who are our biggest foreign trade partners, who are the biggest importers of our goods and services, and what is most sough after from Serbia?

Serbia’s total foreign trade commodity exchange in the period January – September 2023 amounted to 48.7 billion euros, which represents a decrease of 1.3 percent compared to the same period last year. The value of exports of the Republic of Serbia in the period January – September 2023 was 21.5 billion euros, which represents a growth of 5.6 percent compared to the same period last year. In the period January – September, Serbia imported goods worth 27.2 billion euros, which represents a drop of 6.1 percent compared to the same period last year. The European Union is traditionally the largest foreign trade partner of Serbia, and the value of foreign trade commodity exchange with the member countries of the European Union amounts to 59.5% of the total foreign trade commodity exchange. The top 10 countries by value of commodity exchange in the period January – September 2023 are: Germany, China, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, the Russian Federation, Romania, Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic. The top 10 export partners in the same period are: Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro, the Russian Federation, China, Croatia and the Czech Republic. Serbia mostly exports ignition wire sets, copper ores and concentrates, electricity, external pneumatic tires, preparations, active preparations and solutions for retail sale, refined copper cathodes, machine parts, raspberries and other berries. The value of foreign trade exchange of services in the period January –August 2023 was 14.9 billion euros, which is 20 percent more than in the same period last year. The export of services amounted to 8.4 billion euros, which is 23.5 percent more than in the same period last year. In the period January – August 2023, same as last year, the most important partners in the exchange of services and in the export of services are the USA and Germany.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.