Serbia Economy

With a PPP for 2008 estimated at 79,662 million dollars, and a per capita income of 10,792 $, the Serbian economy is considered by the World Bank of a medium-high level. FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in 2006 was $ 5.85 billion. FDI in 2007 fell to 4.2 billion, while real GDP per capita was estimated to reach $ 6,781 in 2009. The GDP growth rate showed an increase of 6.3% in 2005, and 5.8% in 2006, reaching 7.5% in 2007 and 8.7% in 2008, showing the fastest growing economy in the region. According to Eurostat data, Serbian GDP per capita stood at 37% of the European Union average in 2008.

At the beginning of the economic transition, in 1989, the Yugoslav government saw favorable economic prospects. But economic sanctions from 1992 to 1995, as well as the damage suffered by the industry during the Kosovo war, devastated the Serbian economy. Damage from the bombings was estimated at more than $ 30 billion, and industrial production fell by 70%. The losses of the former Yugoslavia market and COMECON also had a fatal impact on exports. Following the overthrow of former Yugoslav Federal President Slobodan Milošević in October 2000, the country experienced greater economic growth, and prepared its entry into the European Union, its most important trading partner.

According to, the recovery of the economy still faces many problems, among which the most important are unemployment of 16-18%, the high deficit of the trade balance (exports: 8.8 billion dollars; imports: 18.300), and a considerable external debt of $ 26,240 million (public debt reached 37% of GDP in 2007). Government forecasts expect some important economic impulses and higher growth rates in the coming years, continuing in the ascending line of the last three, which averaged 6.6%.

In addition to its free trade agreement with the EU as an associate member, Serbia is the only European country outside the former Soviet Union, which has free trade agreements with the Russian Federation and, more recently, also with Belarus. In addition to these favorable economic agreements, the government plans to sign important agreements with Turkey and Iran. In this way Serbia hopes to create an export-oriented economy.

The main companies with investments in Serbia are: US Steel, Philip Morris, Microsoft, Fiat Group, Coca-Cola, Lafarge, Siemens, Carlsberg and other smaller ones. In the field of energy, the largest investments are made by the Russian multinationals Lukoil and Gazprom. The banking sector has attracted investments from Banca Intesa (Italy), Credit Agricole and Société Générale (France), HVB Bank (Germany), Erste Bank (Austria), Eurobank EFG and Piraeus Bank (Greece), and others. In the commercial sector, the largest foreign investors are Intermarché from France, Germany’s Metro Cash & Carry, Greece’s Veropoulos, and Mercator from Slovenia.

Foreign investment in the country is expected to continue growing, thanks to its fiscal policy, aimed at favoring the establishment of foreign companies and the raising of capital. Thus, in 2009, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank agreed to grant loans of 402.5 and 34.9 million euros, respectively, to reactivate their economy. Foreign investment in Serbia was 1,596 million euros in 2008, from which the financial sector benefited greatly (47%); real estate (22.4%); transformation industry (21.4%) and commerce (15.5%). The countries that invested the most were the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany and France. The Serbian economy is considered underdeveloped by some organizations and specialists, taking into account that: the unemployment rate is 31.6%; it has a GDP per capita of less than $ 4,500 (an indicator much lower than those registered by developed countries); its population considered economically poor is close to 30%; energetically, its resources are scarce in both oil and natural gas ; its external debt represents about 34% of its annual GDP.


Serbia, and in particular the Morava Valley is often described as “the crossroads between East and West”, which is one of the primary reasons for its turbulent history. The valley is by far the easiest overland route between continental Europe and Greece and Asia Minor, because it is not a mountainous region.

European routes E65, E70, E75 and E80, as well as E662, E761, E762, E763, E771 and E851 pass through the country. The E70 western Belgrade and most of the E75 are modern highways or at least semi-highways.

The Danube River, central Europe’s connection to the Black Sea, flows through Serbia. There are three international airports in Serbia: Belgrade, Priština and the recently refurbished Niš.

The national airline is Jat Airways and the railway system is operated by Beovoz in Belgrade and ZTP nationally


The tourism offer in Serbia is divided between urban tourism, focused on the big cities of Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš, and that related to rural areas (especially its monasteries) and nature (mountainous areas of Zlatibor, Kopaonik, and Tara). In 2007, 2.2 million tourists visited Serbia, an increase of 15% compared to 2006.

Belgrade: The neighborhoods and historical buildings of the Serbian capital, such as the Parliament of Serbia, the Cathedral of Saint Sava, the National Theater, the Kalemegdan park and the National Museum are the most emblematic and visited of the city. Danube cruises are also highly appreciated by visitors.

Novi Sad: The city of culture, with historical buildings such as the City Hall, the Bishop’s Palace, the Orthodox Cathedral and the Petrovaradin Fortress. The Fruška Gora National Park is also nearby.

Niš: European crossroads, its most representative monuments are its fortress and the monument to liberation. In its surroundings are the Nis Spa Center and the natural areas of the Sicevo Gorge canyon, the Jelasnik Gorge reserve and the Cerjanska cave.

Mountains: The three main (and most visited) mountain areas in Serbia are the Zlatibor, Kopaonik, and Tara mountains. Kopaonik is the most important winter resort in the country, and the one with the best infrastructures for skiing. Zlatibor, located in the southwest, also has a prominent ski resort, and Tara is noted for its well-preserved landscapes, although it also has ski facilities and significant hotel infrastructures.

The most visited areas include the volcanic formations of Đavolja varoš, pilgrimages across the country, and cruises along the Danube, Sava and Tisza rivers. There are also a significant number of spas, one of the most important being Vrnjacka Banja. Other important thermal centers are Soko Banja and Niska Banja.

Serbia Economy