Serbia occupies a key strategic juncture in the Balkans, at the social, political, and geographic crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe
The United States seeks to strengthen its relationship with Serbia by deepening cooperation based on mutual interest and respect. The United States wants Serbia to be part of a stable Balkan region, and we pursue this by supporting Serbia’s integration into European institutions, helping normalize Serbia’s relations with Kosovo, strengthening the rule of law, partnering on security issues, and promoting economic growth.
Serbia opened EU accession negotiations in January 2014 and has embraced the goal of EU membership as its top strategic priority. The United States continues to support Serbia’s efforts to make progress in EU accession talks. Serbia’s accession is conditioned on significant rule of law and economic reforms, as well as the normalization of relations with Kosovo via the EU-facilitated Dialogue, launched in 2011 with strong U.S. backing.
The United States supports the efforts of Serbia and Kosovo to fully implement Dialogue agreements made thus far and to help move both sides toward full normalization.
U.S. ASSISTANCE TO SERBIA
The U.S. government’s assistance goals in Serbia include supporting Serbia’s EU accession path and strengthening Serbia’s capacity to counter-terrorism and transnational crime, combat corruption, and participate in international peacekeeping missions. Since 2001, the United States has provided nearly $1 billion in assistance to Serbia – strengthening the rule of law, increasing good governance, fostering inclusive economic growth, supporting cultural preservation, and helping local communities repair infrastructure and become stronger.
Our Ohio National Guard-led bilateral State Partnership Program is the cornerstone of our security relationship with Serbia. Throughout the 12-year partnership, Ohio and Serbia have worked together to enhance joint training opportunities, averaging about 20 events annually, which have provided an effective platform for developing vibrant and close bilateral ties between our armed forces.
Serbia has also been an active participant in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program for more than a decade, and the United States has been a firm and consistent supporter of Serbia’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with NATO. We value, in particular, Serbia’s contributions to multilateral efforts aimed at defeating ISIS and combatting international terrorism.
The United States and Serbia have also partnered for more than ten years through our International Military Education and Training (IMET) program to allow Serbian and American officers and non-commissioned officers to train together and learn from each other in our most prestigious military schools.
Since 2001, the United States has provided nearly $1 billion in assistance to Serbia – strengthening the rule of law, increasing good governance, fostering inclusive economic growth, supporting cultural preservation, and helping local communities repair infrastructure and become stronger
The United States values Serbia’s contributions to global peacekeeping efforts. Under our Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which has provided more than $8.6 million in security assistance to Serbia for defense modernization and training since 2011, the United States has delivered a total of 40 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs/ Humvees) to support Serbia’s participation in UN operations around the world. Serbia has been a Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) partner since 2011, benefiting from U.S. security assistance aimed at enhancing Belgrade’s capability to train and deploy peacekeeping forces. Since becoming a GPOI partner, Serbia has increased its contributions to UN Peacekeeping Operations more than tenfold.
BILATERAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS
As part of its EU accession process and the three-year agreement it signed with the International Monetary Fund in 2015, Serbia has undertaken economic reforms and has seen meaningful short-term improvements. Significant fiscal consolidation and efforts to combat the informal economy delivered GDP growth of 4.9% in in the first half of 2018, with falling unemployment, moderate inflation, and a small budget surplus.
Foreign Direct Investment inflows remain strong at 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in the same period, similar to the corresponding period of 2017. Serbia has implemented reforms to its labor law, construction permitting, and inspection oversight, all with U.S. assistance.
There is growing interest from potential U.S. investors in Serbia, in line with these positive trends and with Serbia’s prospective EU accession. In September 2018 the United States and Serbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding that seeks to increase cooperation in the field of infrastructure projects. To deliver the additional jobs and growth its citizens demand and to catch up with EU standards, Serbia must move forward with economic reforms to strengthen its private sector, reform its public administration, resolve state-owned enterprises, and improve the rule of law.
Among the leading U.S. investors in Serbia are NCR, KKR, Philip Morris, Molson Coors, Ball Packaging, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cooper Tire, Ametek and Van Drunen Farms. Many other leading U.S. firms, from a broad variety of industrial and service sectors, have a significant presence in Serbia.
There has been increased interest from U.S. information technology (IT) companies in Serbia, with specific emphasis on opportunities in e-government, cloud computing, digitization, systems integration and IT security. NCR, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM all have significant IT-related operations in Serbia, along with a growing number of IT startups. Serbian IT professionals have been highly sought after.
SERBIA’S MEMBERSHIP IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Serbia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Serbia is also a member of the Council of Europe.