According to countryaah, Serbia’s economy is still characterized by the war situation in the 1990s and the NATO bombing in 1999, which helped to weaken the country’s economy. From 2000, a comprehensive market reform program was implemented in Serbia. The government has pursued a strict fiscal policy that has helped stabilize the economy. Successful banking reforms have also been implemented. The privatization process has come a long way and investments from abroad are increasing. However, Serbia faces significant economic challenges: high unemployment, lack of expertise, technological backlog in industry, inefficient companies and lack of investment.
Gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.9 percent in 2017, against 2.8 percent in 2016. GDP per capita was USD 15,100 in 2017, compared with 14,700 in 2016.
On average, 8.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The distinction between city and country is wide. It is the southern and southeastern parts of Serbia that have the highest poverty, while Vojvodina in the north and Belgrade have the fewest poverty.
19.4 percent of the working population is employed in agriculture, which accounts for 9.8 percent of the country’s GDP (2017).
Serbia has a long growing season and about half of the total land area is cultivated land or pasture. The most important crops are maize, wheat, sugar beets and potatoes. Growing fruit (plums, grapes) and vegetables is also important. There is considerable animal husbandry, especially of sheep and cattle. Most of the country’s grain production takes place in Vojvodina.
Energy and mining
Serbia has rich mineral resources, and the mining sector was less affected than other sectors of the war. The most important minerals extracted are coal (mainly lignite), copper ore and bauxite, while there are minor deposits of iron ore, crude oil, zinc and petroleum.
41.1 percent of the working population is employed in the industrial sector, which contributes to 24.5 percent of the country’s GDP (2017).
The areas around Belgrade have the bulk of the industry. The iron and steel industry, the machine industry, the cellulose and rubber industry, the electrical and chemical industry are the most important sectors.
Transport and Communications
During the NATO bombing in 1999, many of the bridges over the Danube were destroyed, and hit, among other things, the connection between Belgrade and Novi Sad. However, several of the bridges were quickly reopened.
In Serbia there are 22 240 km of roads. 28,000 km of roads have a fixed tire. Of these, 741 km are motorways. The railway network is 3 809 km. Inland waterways amount to 589 km (2015). Most important of the waterways is the Danube with the river ports of Belgrade and Novi Sad. There are international airports at Belgrade, Kraljevo, Niš, Vršac and Užice.
From 1992 to 1995, the UN Security Council adopted extensive financial sanctions against the then Yugoslavia. During this period, virtually all foreign trade was halted, and this had serious consequences for Serbia’s economy. Since the sanctions were lifted, foreign trade has gradually increased.
Serbia’s exports amounted to USD 15.92 billion in 2017, while imports amounted to USD 20.44 billion. With this, the country had a deficit in the foreign trade balance of USD 4.52 billion.
The five most important export markets (2017) are:
- Italy(13.5 percent)
- Germany(12.8 percent)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina(8.2 percent)
- Russia(6.0 percent)
- Romania(4.9 percent)
Important export goods are cars, iron and steel, clothing, wheat, fruits and vegetables, metals, electrical products, weapons and ammunition.
The five most important markets for Serbia’s imports (2017) are:
- Germany (12.7 percent)
- Italy (10.0 percent)
- Russia (7.3%)
- Hungary(4.9 percent)
Important import goods are machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals, raw materials and foods.