Both the volume of investment and the number of Italian companies in the Western Balkan area are extremely high. In Serbia in particular, Italy is one of the most important investor countries, with small, medium-sized and large companies having relocated their production operations to the country
The history of economic relations between Italy and Serbia is marked by almost continuous progress and the efforts of both sides to improve and deepen mutual economic, investment and trade connections. Italy has long been among Serbia’s top three foreign trade partners and the country’s second largest export market, but is also among the ten largest foreign investors in Serbia.
Economic cooperation between Serbia and Italy is built on the foundations of the excellent bilateral diplomatic relations that were first established more than 142 years ago. Mutual trade and economic ties have been further strengthened by the current Italian- Serbian Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was signed in 2009.
Approximately 1,850 Italian companies, under partial or majority Italian ownership, are registered in Serbia and employ around 39,000 workers. The first important Italian investment in Serbia was that of Fiat, which helped branches of numerous companies from the automobile industry subsequently establish themselves. Italian companies differ in terms of size and area of activity and are present nationwide across Serbia. Italian companies are today present in almost all economic sectors in Serbia, including construction, IT, renewable energy sources, footwear, packaging, mechanical elements, wood processing, the furniture industry and agriculture.
The presence of major Italian banks, with direct investments or via the control of subsidiaries, is extremely important for the support of further Italian investments
Among the most significant investors are Intesa Sanpaolo, Fiat Chrysler, Unipol- Sai S.p.A., Ferrero, Cogeme Group, Pompea, Golden Lady, Calzedonia, Olimpias and many others. Indeed, this exchange is strongly influenced by the two countries’ level of development. In 2020, Italy ranked 19th in the Economic Complexity Index (ECI 1.3), and 7th in total exports ($481 billion). That same year, Serbia ranked 37th in the Economic Complexity Index (ECI 0.68), and 68th in total exports ($20.6 billion).
According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), an online data visualisation and distribution platform, Italy exported goods worth 1.95 billion dollars to Serbia in 2020. The main products exported products included tanned equine and bovine hides ($88.2 million), vehicle parts ($69.2 million), and raw copper ($50.7 million). Over the course of the last 14 years, Italian exports to Serbia have increased at an annual rate of 3.26%, increasing from $1.24 billion in 2006 to $1.95 billion in 2020. Italy didn’t export any services to Serbia during 2020.
On the other hand, Serbia exported goods worth $1.71 billion to Italy in 2020. The main products included cars ($351 million), corn ($89.8 million), and footwear parts ($70.9 million). Serbian exports to Italy have increased at an annual rate of 4.21% over the last 14 years, from $959 million in 2006 to $1.71 billion in 2020. According to the latest data available, Serbia exported services to Italy worth $1.63 million in 2019, with the largest in terms of value being transportation ($551,000), other business services ($503,000), and travel ($237,000).
Italy had large net trade with Serbia during 2020 in the exports of machines ($447 million), metals ($261 million), and textiles ($203 million), on the other side, Serbia had large net trade with Italy in exports of transportation ($373 million), textiles ($254 million), and metals ($186 million).