Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia are dynamic, varied and well developed, characterized by meaningful human and cultural ties and a wide range of bilateral agreements in many areas as well as good cooperation in the multilateral organizations.
Today, Switzerland supports Serbia’s path towards the European Union and so far Switzerland has approved 300 million Swiss francs worth assistance to the Serbian Government for development of various sectors. Over the next four years, an additional 75 million Swiss francs will be set aside for development of management systems, economic development and the energy sector.
Bilateral economic agreements signed between Switzerland and Serbia cover various aspects, from trade and economic cooperation (2001), technical and financial cooperation (2003), protection and investment promotion (2007), and double tax avoidance (2005). Please see here the list of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and Serbia: www.mfa.gov.rs
Economic cooperation includes annual government level meetings in the form of mixed economic commissions and forums, making it possible to establish priorities, discuss any difficulties and develop opportunities for investment.
According to the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, in terms of trade, Switzerland was ranked as 25th in both the Serbian export and import value levels in 2012. The Republic of Serbia exports to Switzerland equates to 0.8% of Serbia’s total exports while the level of import to Serbia from Switzerland accounts for 0.9% of the total Serbian import trade. Switzerland is also Serbia’s most significant partner in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Please see here the Free trade agreement with EFTA: Free trade agreement with EFTA
The following table presents the results of the commodities exchange between Serbia and Switzerland since 2005. Since 2005, imports have been rising at an average annual rate of 36%, and – in 2008 – the realized import level was 3.9 times greater than the import level in 2001. The commodities exchange with Switzerland in 2008 in comparison with 2007 has rose to 18.9%, and the offset of import by export vastly increased from 28% to 40%.
In 2012, the volume of commodities exchange grew in comparison with the same time period in 2011, while the offset of imports by exports amounted to 52.8%. In the first semester of 2013, commodities exchange was at the level of the six-month period in the previous year, with somewhat improved offset of imports by exports.
In 2012, the most frequent exports were: electric power, fuels and lubricants, tin materials, strip rolls of processed copper, furniture parts made of wood, parts and tools for printing equipment, raspberries, wooden upholstered seats, hand washing products for dishes, brooms and brushes made of herbal materials, rubber, scaffolding, pre-fabricated houses, and marble plates. In 2012, Serbia’s imports primarily consisted of: electric power, medicines, polyamides in primary forms, plastics, clocks, Indian rubber-based glue products, pacemakers and medicinal devices, textile industry products, diagnostic and laboratory agents, molds for rubber and plastics, molds for compression casting, chocolate with added cereals, hazelnuts, and jewelry.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of the Republic of Serbia, in 2014, total trade in goods with Switzerland amounted to 257.5 million euros, which is a spike of 11.4% compared with 2013. Exports saw a drop of 4.5% to 74.4 milion euros, while imports rose by 19.4% and amounted to 183.1 million euros. Imports were offset by exports in the same period by 40.6%.
In the period between January and December of 2015, total trade with Switzerland amounted to a record 325.6 million euros. Exports saw a drop of 5.6% to 70.2 million euros, while imports increased by 39.5% and amounted to 255.4 million euros. On the Serbian side, there was a deficit of as much as 185.2 million euros, meaning that imports were offset by exports at only 27.5% (imports is almost 4 times higher than exports).
In 2015, the products most exported to Switzerland were the following: frozen raspberries, doors, windows and frames made of plastic, watches, glass products, structures and parts made of iron or steel, wooden furniture parts; fittings for scaffolding, formwork, and support; tires, padded seats for cars, kerosene, parts for machines and appliances; paper and paperboard coated with plastic, diesel cars, granite, soybean oil, boiled or frozen fruit, and products made of aluminum alloys. The most imported goods included: self-propropelled wagons (unsorted goods according to the Customs Tariff – in storage), medicines, electricity, plastics (forms of polyethylene), parts and accessories for motor vehicles, machines and appliances with special features, optical components, machines for treatment of metals, fungicides, mixtures of odoriferous substances, generators, plastic (vinyl chloride), unassembled optical elements, watches, and cartons.
The largest part of imports from Switzerland in 2015 – approximately 27% – consisted of wagons (the contract between Železnice Srbije (Serbian Railways) and the Swiss Stadler), a value of 69.3 million euros.
According to the National Bank of Serbia, from January 2005 – December 2013, the total net investment from Switzerland to Serbia amounted to 483,1 million euros. In 2014, the total net investments from Switzerland amounted to 126.2 million euros (inflows from investments made by Swiss residents were 139.1 million euros). There is potential in trade relations and the same can be said for Swiss direct investment in Serbia, which remains at attractive market for the Swiss companies.
Today, there is approx. 200 Swiss companies established in Serbia, in various sectors, such as construction (SIKA), services (Dufry, Ringier Axel Springer) and industry (Nestle, Roche), with small and medium enterprises mostly specializing in distribution and metal industry.
Back in 2005 and 2007, Serbia and Switzerland signed agreements on investment, promotion and protection and double tax avoidance. There is no official statistical information about the amount of Serbian investment in Switzerland.