The EBRD confirmed its commitment to Serbia in 2018, with investments of €395 million in 18 new projects.
Fostering competitiveness of the private sector, supporting regional expansion of Serbian companies, increasing regional connectivity and supporting the green economy remain key priorities of the Bank’s investments in the country.
Total EBRD investments in Serbia have now topped the €5 billion markers.
In investments to promote the private sector, the Bank channelled close to €200 million in credit lines, trade financing and guarantees to local commercial banks that will be used for on-lending to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Serbian SMEs will now have easier access to finance, which helps them improve their energy efficiency and competitiveness and to facilitate trade.
In its first public-private partnership project in Serbia, the EBRD in 2018 mobilised significant amounts of private finance to fund a major modernisation of the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade, Serbia’s main air transportation hub that serves the country and the wider region.
Improving transport links in Serbia was further supported with an additional €22 million loan to Serbia’s national passenger railway company, Srbija Voz, which will use the funds for construction of a new railway depot in Zemun.
Boosting the growth of Serbian companies, in 2018 the Bank supported domestic furniture producer Forma Ideale with €10 million and the leading agribusiness company MK Group with €25 million, helping to promote the expansion of both companies.
Last year also saw a launch of the Green Economy Financing Facility in Serbia, supported by the European Union, Austria and Energy Community, which allows Serbian citizens to benefit from loans coupled with incentive grants to help them improve the energy efficiency of their homes and to reduce electricity bills. In 2018, two local banks, Erste and UniCredit, started providing financing for energy efficiency improvement to Serbian households.
Further fostering the green economy in Serbia, the EBRD successfully implemented a Green Innovation Vouchers programme that boosts the innovation capacity of Serbian companies in the field of green technology and resource efficiency. In its first year, the EBRD-run scheme supported 29 projects with vouchers worth a combined €435,000. The programme is set to continue in 2019.
In the agriculture sector, the EBRD, working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Serbian Grain Association, helped Serbia fulfil the phytosanitary requirements needed to export wheat to Egypt, the world’s largest importer of the crop. The achievement came 30 years after Serbia stopped exporting wheat to Egypt, and is likely to lead to increased sales of grain, Serbia’s highest value agricultural export.
In 2018, Serbian SMEs continued to benefit from advisory services to improve know-how and export potential. 63 Serbian companies received advisory and coaching while even more women managers improved their leadership skills.