Serbia is an EU membership candidate country and Italy has never failed to support its accession process. In order to raise our already excellent bilateral cooperation to an even higher level, the further integration of the Serbian market into that of Europe is of paramount importance, representing a crucial driver of beneficial internal reforms
Last year’s outbreak of the pandemic showed once again that a friend in need is a friend indeed, as our peoples provided each other with mutual assistance in overcoming this tragic turn of events. And despite the pandemic, we were still able to organise three high level visits of members of the Italian Government to Belgrade: Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivan Scalfarotto and Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini. Two Serbian Ministers also visited Rome: former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić and European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimović.
This year, on 1st April, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković met Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in Rome. One of the key topics on their agenda was how to expand the two countries’ strategic partnership to enable the realising of the full potential of our intertwined economies. In the hope that the epidemiological situation will improve, the two countries have ambitious plans for the coming months that are aimed at further boosting old and solid ties; relations that are rooted in the past, but look boldly to the future: infrastructure projects and transport corridors, energy transition and the green agenda, digitalisation and innovation are just some of the areas where Italy has built up skills and capabilities and is ready to work hand-in-hand with Serbia.
Italy is Serbia’s second largest trade partner and can claim a very large economic presence in the country, with more than 1,600 companies operating in Serbia, around 600 of which form the core of the countr’s presence, employing approximately 40,000 people
Italy is Serbia’s second largest trade partner and can claim a very large economic presence in the country, with more than 1,600 companies operating in Serbia, around 600 of which form the core of the countr’s presence, employing approximately 40,000 people. Their activities span all sectors: FCA/Stellantis (automotive), Banca Intesa, Unicredit, Generali, Unipol/DDOR Novi Sad (banking & insurance), Ferrero (agri-food), Engineering Software Lab d.o.o (digitalisation). In addition to these, many Italian SMEs have launched production operations in Serbia and are now present all over the country, from Subotica to Vranje.
The bilateral trade volume ranged from 3.8 to four billion euros in the 2017-2019 period, according to data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. And in 2020, despite the global emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries still achieved bilateral trade worth 3.4 billion euros. Considering the current circumstances, this was a very good result that once again showed that trade is a pillar of these bilateral relations.
And that’s not all! A positive inversion has already come in the first quarter of 2021: with total trade having reached 927 million euros, with an increase of +2.6% compared to the 903 million euros achieved in Q1 2020. Serbian exports grew by +2.1% (from €414 to €423 million), while Serbian imports from Italy – i.e. Italian exports – grew by +3.1% (from €489 to €504 million). The trade balance thus favours Italy to the tune of 81.5 million euros. Confidence is high that bilateral trade is set to surge in the coming months, as pandemic constraints gradually ease thanks to the positive impact of the vaccination campaign.