On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, an online working meeting was held between member companies of five bilateral business associations in Serbia: the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (SSCC), the Hellenic Business Association, the Croatian Business Club (CBC), the Slovenian Business Club (SBC) and the Belgian-Serbian Business Association, with representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (SCC). During the working meeting titled Macroeconomic Trends in the Economy of the Republic of Serbia in the Context of COVID-19, the participants were addressed by Ognjen Popović, Acting Assistant Minister of Finance in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and Mihailo Vesović, Director of the Sector for Strategic Analysis, Services and Internationalization of the SCC, who presented the current, as well as expected trends in the domestic economy.
On that occasion, Mr. Popović stated that the state aid to support the economy in 2020 totaled 12.9% of GDP and that the third aid package in this year amounts to 4.5% of GDP. Ognjen Popović pointed out that the main goals of economic support measures are, among others, the preservation of economic capacity and liquidity, especially in the sector of micro, small and medium enterprises, and that the Ministry of Finance implements responsible fiscal policy and continues to intensify reform processes with the aim of repairing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and enabling further sustainable development of the Serbian economy. The three key reform goals of the Ministry of Finance are the new Law on Digitalisation, e-invoices and amendments to the laws concerning the financial system. Mr. Popović wound up his presentation by saying that the communication between the state and the economy is critical for jointly finding solutions that will lead to the enhancement of the domestic business environment.
Mr. Vesović presented the basic macroeconomic data of the domestic economy: in the first quarter of 2021, the estimated GDP growth rate of the Republic of Serbia was 1.2%. He added that Serbia is the only country in the Western Balkans region which is estimated to recover from the pandemics already in 2021. As regards foreign trade, Vesović emphasized that the total export of Serbia in 2020 is only slightly lower than in the previous year – about 3% and that in the first quarter of 2021 Serbia recorded an increase in exports of 13.8% compared to the same quarter last year.
Vesović highlighted that the services sector is one of the drivers of the country’s economic recovery during the pandemic. In 2020, this sector’s surplus in the exchange with foreign countries amounted to 1.1 billion euros. He said that the surplus increases from year to year due to the rapid development of ICT services.
After the presentations, the member companies of business associations had the opportunity to ask questions directly to the representatives of the state bodies.