Serbia’s transition to a European Union member state is driving change within the Balkan country and economic growth is expected to reach 6% in the medium term.
A well educated and experienced workforce has already attracted hundreds of large multi – national businesses as well as small and medium sized enterprises from around the World.
Many companies find themselves drawn by Belgrade’s reputation as a business and retail hub for the wider former Yugoslav area. And with free trade agreements with Russia, Turkey, CEFTA and the previously ‘non – aligned’ states, the former home of Nikola Tesla has real global reach.
Significant progression toward full EU integration has been noted by Štefan Füle, the Commissioner for Enlargement: “I am encouraged to see what has been achieved under the leadership of the Serbian Minister of Justice and Public Administration since our last meeting in October.”
However, short – term problems remain as the country looks to shake off a reputation for bureaucracy, corruption and football hooliganism.
A lack of wholesale reforms and a creaking infrastructure are other causes for concern, as is the regime’s unresolved relationship with Kosovo.
Despite the drawbacks, the landlocked country offers a low tax base (average monthly salaries are €400) and seven free enterprise zones. Investors and start – up companies are encouraged to take up government backed incentives.
A new law on Public Private Partnerships (PPP) may also offer opportunities for British firms, and although EU ascension is hardly going to happen overnight (Serbia is not expected to join before 2020) the business climate is improving as the fight against corruption brings progress toward EU integration.
Enterprise Europe Network has seven offices in three Serbian cities. Being part of a large network we are able to utilise the knowledge of our global partners to provide valuable information on trading internationally.