France, one of the leading world economies and a country that enjoys a considerable reputation in key economic sectors, is itself a highly sophisticated, fully open but at the same time demanding market.
Due to the broadest possible offer and high competition, entry into this market, permanent presence and development in it are conditioned not only by the quality of the product or service but also by a good knowledge of the business environment and business culture.
France is the leading producer of agricultural products in the European Union while taking second place in the world, just behind the United States of America. This country takes the top position in terms of the auto industry, energy, while in biotechnology it is the third in Europe, after the UK and Germany.
The IT sector, creative industries, such as high fashion, music and film, as well as banking and insurance, tourism and transport, should not be neglected.
The Vinci Airports concession of Nikola Tesla Airport is France’s largest investment in Serbia so far
“With at least 85 million foreign tourists a year, France is the most visited country in the world and the third in the world regarding the income, from tourism,” said Jelena Jovanovic, director of the Sector for International Economic Relations of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
She states that between 2010 and 2018, 1.5 billion euros from France entered Serbia, and she ranked fifth among the countries with the highest net investment by non-residents in Serbia.
“The dominant form of economic cooperation between Serbia and France is trading in goods,” said Jelena Jovanovic.
According to data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, the total trade between Serbia and France in the first five months of 2019 amounted to EUR 498.9 million, which is 14% more than in the observed period of 2018. Total exports of goods in the period under review amounted to EUR 194.2 million in 2019, while goods worth EUR 304.7 million were imported. The export-import ratio is 64 per cent.
“Our goal is to further improve Serbia’s overall economic cooperation with France, as well as to promote our economy and its potential on the French market,” said the director of the Sector for International Economic Relations of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
“The SCC is actively working to promote Serbia’s economic potential and improve Serbia’s image. Through the organisation of business meetings between Serbian and French companies, he performs at fairs and specialised exhibitions.
The Serbian Chamber of Commerce has good cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce of Paris, the Federation of Employers of MEDEF, and with the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce in Belgrade.
In the last three years, the SCC has successfully organised several conferences to bring the Serbian market closer to French companies, to establish closer cooperation between businessmen of the two countries, as well as to attract French investments in Serbia.”
Total trade between Serbia and France in the first five months of 2019 amounted to EUR 498.9 million, which is 14% more than in the observed period of 2018
France is a demanding market with almost 67 million inhabitants, whose territory covers one-fifth of Europe’s surface. For Serbian businesspeople, France is also a kind of window and a step into the countries of North Africa, the former French colonies, the countries of the Maghreb (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco). Countries which are still traditionally oriented towards the French market through language, proximity and trade ties.
During the recent visit of French President Emanuel Macron to Serbia, 22 agreements were signed in the fields of economy, military industry, education and culture. Also, five documents were exchanged at a press conference held by the President of Serbia Alexander Vucic and Emanuel Macron.
Signed documents include the Statement of Intent for the realisation of the project for the construction of the Belgrade subway, the Agreement on the purchase of thermal energy between Beocista Energia and the Belgrade Power Plant and the Agreement with the company MBDA on the delivery of Mistral rockets. The Agreement on cinematographic co-production and the Agreement between the Government of Serbia and the Government of France on the status of the French School in Belgrade were also exchanged.
Among signed documents was the agreement on cooperation between the company Schneider Electric and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Belgrade, as well as an agreement on collaboration between the company Schneider Electric and the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad. The two delegations also signed a Letter of Intent between the French and Serbian Customs, the Ministry of Defense Technical Agreement for a contract with the MBDA.
Protocol of Intent signed between Akua Energy SAS, IEL OIE Balkan Renewable Energy and Provincial Secretariat for Energy, Construction and Transport of AP Vojvodina in the presence of Basiadi Wind for wind farm development in Serbia, Intent Protocol between Proparco and Akua Energy SAS for financing of wind farm project Basiadi and Protocol on intentions for development of in-depth geothermal projects in Serbia.
Serbia is the bigest exporter of processed raspberries, blackberries and cherries on the french market
“Serbia is trying to increase its capacities in the fields of processed fruits, vegetables and meat, which is of interest to French investors as well. The aim is to increase the production of final products and the entry of our producers into the network of international retail chains and the supply chain of large world companies,” said Jelena Jovanovic.
“Also, in the French market, we are present with the export of tires, timber products, from solid wood furniture to eco-friendly wooden houses, car parts… These, with the agri-food industry and ICT, are key sectors for increasing Serbia’s exports and reducing the trade deficit. ”
The Vinci Airports concession of Nikola Tesla Airport is France’s biggest investment in Serbia so far. Vinci’s total investment in the airport is € 1.46 billion, including a one-off fee of € 501 million, minimum annual concession fees and capital investment.
Among the biggest investors from France are “Michelin Tiger Tires” (367 million euros in the automotive industry), “Agricole group” (264 million euros in the financial sector), “Lafarge” (160 million euros in the construction industry), “Tarket” ( € 136 million in the timber industry), Schneider Electric (€ 100 million in the IT sector)…