Invest in Balkan

SweTurk together with Serbian Swedish Business Council and Invest in Macedonia has organized a seminar on funding opportunities to support establishment and business in Balkans and Turkey.

Being geographically close to the European Union and economically rated among the ranks of other European nations, the Western Balkans are becoming a popular destination for investors from larger countries in Western Europe.

With customs free access to the 15% of the world market and its strong manufacturing sector with highly capable human capital, Serbia is one of the leading business locations in Balkans. Macedonia on the other hand, led to be recognised as Business Heaven in Europe in the last years due to many reforms and the government incentives for the foreign direct investment. 

Swefund is the development financier of Swedish state which is funding projects that creates sustainable business in worlds most promising growth markets.

The event has present opportunities to learn more about Swedfund’s financial support for establishments and investment opportunities in Serbia and Macedonia.

Ms. Mirjana Naumoska, Head of International office – Sweden and Denmark, Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia in Copenhagen, Denmark

Ms. Jovanka Miljević, CEO, Serbian Swedish Business Council

Ms. Tatjana Ristovski, VP Management Board, Serbian Swedish Business Council

Mr. Nils Marcks von Würtemberg from Swedfund, Senior Loan Manager Swedpartnership were speakers of the event.

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Business Opportunities and Logistics: Scandinavia – Eastern Europe Case

On September 10th an international transport and logistics conference took place in Stockholm. On the initiative of the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden, the conference was organized by Lithuanian Ministry of Transport and Communications, JSC Lithuanian Railways, port of Klaipėda, Turkish-Swedish business association Sweturk and International Swedish Freight association.

The main focus of the conference – to present modern logistics possibilities and perspectives of international multimodal solutions between Scandinavia and Eastern European countries.

Participants of the event were ports, transport and logistic companies of Sweden, Lithuania and Turkey.

Guests Speakers:
Arijandas Sliupas – Vice Minister of Transport and Communication of the Republic of Lithuania
Tautginas Sankauskas- President of  Lithuanian National Assoc. Logistic
Arturas Drungilas- Marketing Director of  Klaipeda State Seaport
Marius Matulaitis – Head of integration JSC (Lithuanian Railways)
Mats Olsson- Director General of Karlshamns Hamn AB
Jan Kilström- CEO of Green Cargo
Johan Röstin- CEO of Copenhagen- Malmö Port
Erik Froste- Managing Director Port of Södertelje were the speakers of the event.

News source:

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Serbia – The Crossroad of Advantages

By Maja Mandrapa Gasic*

Bilateral economic cooperation between Serbia and Nordic countries consists of two elements: cooperation between governments and official institutions and cooperation between companies. On the governmental level, political relations are good, there is no single open question. We are particularly grateful for all the help Serbia has received  from Nordic countries trough different development projects.

Trade cooperation strengthens

Trade is today’s point of interest. Bilateral trade volumes were in constant rise in the last decade, but a considerable potential for further expansion remains. In 2014 trade between Serbia and Sweden amounted to 220 mil. EUR, which puts Sweden at the top of the list of trade partners in the Nordic region. Denmark is second with 123 mil.EUR, while Finland (99 mil. EUR) and Norway (32 mil. EUR) are marked third and fourth respectively. Except with Norway, Serbia traditionally records a trade deficit with Nordic countries.

Serbia is committed to improving its trade balance and supporting domestic exporters and in order to ensure better position in Nordic markets, Serbian exporters receive  support from our Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunication, Ministry of Economy, Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Serbina Investment and Export Promotion Agency. One activity should be particularly emphasised when speaking about recent steps to increase trade volumes. In march 2014 Swedish National trade council came to Serbia and delivered a taylor-made seminar for the Serbian companies planning to export to Sweden – free of charge and sector-specific. Helping companies to export their goods to Sweden is in mutual interest, not only pushing up Serbian exports but Swedish exports too – because of value chain dynamics and high percentage of companies whose business model follows import-in-order-to-export logic. This seminar was a usefull tool for giving a boost to cooperation between the companies.

Another important tool we are using to foster business partnerships is networking. Respecting the importance of networking of business communities of Serbia and Nordic countries, Ministry of trade, tourism and telecommunications is welcoming all the initiatives of private associations formed both in Belgrade and Scandinavia with the aim to enhance the cooperation. One example of it is Swedish-Serbian Business Council established in Stokholm in 2014. We would welcome similar associations with other Nordic countries.

Serbia is home for many Nordic companies

Maja Mandrapa Gasic

So far, around 200 companies from the Nordic Region are active on the Serbian market, one third of which are from Sweden. We would like to increase this number especially in the export oriented production sectors. Some of the most prestigious Nordic and global companies now operating in Serbia are: Telenor, Karlsberg, RAPP Marine, Ericsson, Tetra Pak, Grundfos, Tikkurila, etc. to name just a few. With the total transaction value of 1,53 billion EUR, acquisition made by Telenor Norway was and still is the largest foreign direct investment in Serbia. In 2014 Telenor bought KBC bank and introduced mobile banking in Serbia, being one of the first offering this service on the market. We would like to invite more Nordic and global companies to consider doing business in Serbia.

The most important advantages of doing business in Serbia are the following:

  • Serbia is an EU candidate country (since March 2012);
  • Serbia follows FTA regimes with EU, EFTA, CEFTA (regional), Russian Federation, Belarussia and Kazahstan and with Turkey (covering markets of almost 1 billion people);
  • Serbia offers financial incentives for employment and skilled workforce in many sectors;
  • Serbia has favorable geographic position. Due to its position Serbia is considered a gateway to Europe. Three very important European corridors, No. 7 (The River Danube),  No. 11 (international highway  Temisoara-Bar) and No. 10 (an international highway and railroad), intersect on Serbian territory, providing excellent transportation connections with Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Serbia is unique in Europe in terms of its FTA regime with Russian Federation. This FTA as well as one with Turkey gave results that are largely visible in only few years of its implementation. The trade exchange with Turkey, for example, doubled in 2010 -2014 period thanks to the benefits of FTA. The recent arrival of Halk Bank, a very first Turkish bank to enter the Serbian banking sector, is promising for expecting more Turkish companies to do business in Serbia in the future. In 2014 trade exchage between Serbia and Turkey amounted to 618 mil. EUR, but we would welcome higher level of Turkish investments too. 

EU – the most important parner

European Union is our most important trade partner. Almost two-thirds of our exports go to the EU. Among the most vibrant Serbian exporters to the EU are actually companies owned by EU capital and having set production in Serbia for the advantages offered here. No surprising that largest investors in Serbia originate from the EU.

Serbia is absolutely dedicated to finishing the necessary economic reforms which will bring us closer to macroeconomic stability. Another key driver of reforms is introduction of EU standards. Stack of reform laws have been passed in our Parliament in 2014 (on labor, privatisation, bankruptcy, real estate trade, public service officials, etc), with the purpose to increase the competitivenes of our economy and improve the business climate for investors. Harmonization of Serbian legal system with the EU is steadily under way, and numerous standards in key areas are already fully met or close to be so, as laid down in the documents of the screening process. We do believe Serbia will soon enter the negotiation with the EU Commission opening and closing chapter by chapter of negotiation framework.

Financial incentives & other advantages

Financial incentives for companies creating employment in Serbia are another quite significant advantage. Investors can apply and receive the non-refundable grants for each new job created in Serbia. The grants are ranging up to 7000 EUR per job position, are designed for labor intensive industries like textile and wood-processing industry and particularly favoring investors willing to invest in underdeveloped areas (devastated regions) of our country. Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications is determined to attract investors in the tourism sector in which Serbia has a lot to offer – ski centers, thermal spas, rural tourism, city breaks, culinary tours, etc.

One of the main advantages of investing in Serbia is availability of skilled work force at a reasonable wage in almost all larger cities. This contributes to the fact that costs of operating in Serbia are much lower than in other countries in the region. Serbia ranks well compared to region in terms of taxes, energy prices, free custom zones and transport options. The list of factors favoring doing business in Serbia would not be completed without adding that Serbia has concluded bilateral agreements on investment promotion and protection with all Nordic countries, including Sweden. Double taxation is also precluded by the corresponding agreements.

Sectors in which Serbia is competitive or can be competitive with additional investment  are agriculture and food production, textile, machinery and metal industry and pharmacy. Good perspectives are to be found in IT sector, engineering and electronic industry, automotive industry, chemical industry, renewable energy sector and clean technologies.

* Assistant Minister, Sector for Bilateral Economic Cooperation, Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of the Republic of Serbia

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Serbia’s quest for a European future

Serbia’s to the Nordic region ties date back to 19th Century, and up to this day Serbia has high interest and recognition of Nordic culture, economy and regional model of cooperation. Our premise is that development of the Balkan – alongside the negotiation of its countries with the European Union – can continuously be improved by using experiences and benefits of the Nordic model of cooperation. At the same time, numerous bilateral projects, increasing trade relations and inflow of foreign direct investments from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark, present key importance in strengthening our relations with a positive effect on Serbian economy and competitiveness. 

Dr Dusan Crnogorcevic, Ambassador of The Republic of Serbia to The Kingdom of Sweden answered the question of Nordic Business.

  • How is EU membership going to affect Serbia’s business relation with Europe at large and Sweden in particular?

The past year was marked with Serbia`s quest for a European future – as country receive candidate status and progress towards screened procedure. Process needs to be sustained, and I am confident that we are on the clear path towards European Union as enthusiasm among population is arising with clear determination of the Government to continue along European Union accession negotiation process. We would like to emphasize that economic reforms are at the same time high on the Government agenda, especially through adoption of new set of laws that will ensure more flexibility into the labor market, sustain private sector growth and to finally conduct privatization process of the public companies.

 A recent report by the European commission showed Serbia is on track to become part of the EU and those implementations of reforms are paying off. Based on European attractiveness survey, Serbia is considered as one of Europe’s favorite investment locations in CEE a few years in row. Serbia – when compared to its neighboring countries – record consistently high results in attracting FDI over the last 5 years. Simultaneously, export is growing – followed by increase in export oriented foreign capital inflow – that is of key importance in improving innovations, use of technology and competitiveness of the private sector in general.

The experience of Sweden and other EU Member States will be a great support in improving economic governance and competitiveness in the country. Emphasis will be put on structural reforms. EU is Serbia’s biggest trading partner; according to data the EU accounted for more than 61 per cent of Serbia’s exports and imports in the last two years. One of our major goals is to ensure that trade between the EU and Serbia continues to grow. Sweden has been a great supporter of Serbia when it comes to European integration process. We truly appreciate their continuous enthusiasm for enlargement of European Union as a negotiation is a cornerstone of our Government along with the economic recovery. Still, our notion is that we have a lot to do on economic front since Serbia-Sweden bilateral trade in US$ 2014 was with 347,7 million below potential, marked by high trade deficit on Serbia`s side. We believe that Swedish-Serbian business partnerships will not only continue in the same positive manner – as more than 70 Swedish companies already present in the market – but become even more beneficial for both sides by prospering from opportunities within the internal market.

Dr Dusan Crnogorcevic, Ambassador of The Republic of Serbia to The Kingdom of Sweden

  • What are the invest – trade opportunities in Serbia- and particularly emerging sectors

Serbian economy is gathering momentum on the strength of key industries: ICT, automotive, machinery, food, textile and wood processing industry. Export of cars from Serbia have increased and reach record high level of US$ 2.1 billion in 2014, as result of FIAT investment in the country. Food sector is also boosting its export performance to both European Union member countries and Russian market, backed with Free Trade Agreements Serbia holds with these countries. Our companies from food industry have great potentials and large quantities of high-quality that can be offered to consumers on foreign markets, yet still lacking behind in knowledge of export procedures, market trends and packaging. Serbia ICT industry is an engine of economic and innovations growth marked with gaming companies have already achieved global success with their creativity, enthusiasm and talented professionals. For exapmle, gaming company Nordeus, set in 2010, launched popular Facebook game “Top Eleven Manager”. The game has seen a steady growth and currently has over 12 million monthly active players and 5 million daily active players, while 10-people start-up became a leading company in the sphere of entertainment software development in this part of Europe with today more than 150 employess.

There are number of possibilities for enhancement of investment and trade in particular within ICT, machinery, food and textile sector. Our premise is that strong political relations and Sweden`s support to Serbia accession negotiations process to the EU is very keen to transform into strong economic relations that benefit both countries. Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Stockholm with great support from newly established Serbian Swedish Business Council is working toward that goal.         

  • For Swedish companies what would recommend specifically about Serbia and Serbian business market? Business fairs etc.  as last words.

Serbia is open for business – all potentials for cooperation are open and our companies are constantly looking for new partners in foreign markets. However, depending on the needs of the individual company from Sweden we can offer specific investment and trade prospects. If company is interested in ICT I would say that Serbia ICT sector is the strongest in the region with booming outsourcing potential, same with food, textile industry and machinery. One of the key competitive cornerstones of Serbian economy is strong supplier’s network that can deliver products and services within short delivery time and superb quality. Hence, I can not single out one specific sector, as there are many opportunities for greater business cooperation with Swedish companies.

Nowadays, Serbia is one of top investment locations in Central and Eastern Europe, and it is considered as one of the favored destinations in Europe for large manufacturing projects. The Economist intelligence unit estimates an average annual economic growth of 3.6 per cent in 2014 to 2018. In 2014, the largest part of expected FDI inflow will be directed to the energy sector (48%), followed by manufacturing (20%) and trade (7%), Many of world know companies are alredy present in Serbia embracing Fiat, Telenor, Stada, Michelin, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Gazprom, Intesa Sanpaolo, Siemens, etc.  Some foreign investors decided to use Serbian manufacturing hub potentials which enable duty-free exports to a market of almost 1 billion people together with good geographical position with delivery within 24-hours to most EU locations, abundance of resources and long tradition in key industries. While others appreciate highly skilled and easy trained workforce offered with highly competitive costs.

We are looking forward to welcome more business delegations from Sweden to Serbia. Opportunities are numerous from internationals fairs in capital Belgrade and Novi Sad to specially created matchmaking and b2b events where partnering companies can meet in person and talk business.

  • A short introduction about Serbian Business Culture

Serbian business culture has undergone through profound changes in last couple of years. Before agreements we set up and confirmed during lunch in so called “kafana” within more homely, pleasant atmosphere. Today, we have shifted to more “Western style” meetings even though café culture remains for an informal gathering with your business partners. The most common opening when meeting your Serbian counterpart for the first time is a handshake and a smile. Exchange of business cards is part of the etiquette as well usually followed by courtesy introduction and short off topic conversation. Majority of business representatives are fluent in English or some other language, and formal dress code with suite and tie is a must and presents respect to your partner. Serbians are open, communicative and friendly, and do like to engage in conversation with foreigners.

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Organic Food from Serbia for the Nordic Market

By Marko Čadež*

Serbia is an increasingly attractive investment destination, and Serbian companies have a growing capacity to be a reliable partner and supplier to investors and customers from the Nordic region.

At the beginning of 2015, good foundations were made for substantial improvement of the economic relations between Serbia and the Nordic countries. The year started with the visits of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Aleksandar Vučić, to Finland, at the end of January, and to Sweden, at the beginning of February, which were marked by the discussions with the highest officials and businesspeople. Already in March, the State-Business Delegation of Finland visited Belgrade, which was another opportunity to inform the Nordic region countries about the progress achieved by Serbia in creating even more incentive conditions for business activities and investments, but also about the export and investment potentials of the Serbian market.  We have renewed old and established new contacts at all levels, and economy was in the focus of all discussions. In the coming period, we expect intensifying of contacts with other countries of the Nordic region.

The foundations for strengthening the cooperation are becoming better. The list of the Serbian advantages in attracting foreign companies is long: from the political and macroeconomic stability and reform orientation of the Government, focused on  the economy, through free trade agreements that open up a market of 800 million consumers, from the favourable legislative, tax and incentive regimes, to competitive and qualified labour force.

Serbia is an increasingly attractive destination for investments, and Serbian companies have the capacity to be a reliable partner to foreign investors. A special potential for cooperation are clusters of the Serbian companies. Currently, there are about a hundred of them in 13 sectors, mainly in agriculture, tourism, IT sector, metal, construction, and pharmaceutical industries. They gather and connect about 500 companies and employ 40,000 persons. Organized in such a way and associated, our companies may become confident suppliers and serious partners in production and trade with Nordic companies.

The statistical data show in the best way that there are great possibilities for improvement of the Serbian – Nordic trade relations. Foreign trade exchange of Serbia and the Nordic countries is modest, with a constant deficit on the Serbian side: last year it amounted to slightly more than 700 million US dollars, which is only 1.9 per cent of the total foreign trade of Serbia with the world. Last year exports of Serbian products to the region – 152.3 million US dollars – were only 1 per cent of the total exports from Serbia, whereas imports from the Nordic countries – 548.6 million US dollars – was about 2.6 per cent of the total Serbian imports. Exports covered only 27.8 per cent of imports.

From among the Nordic countries, Sweden is the biggest importer from Serbia, but it is also the biggest exporter to our market, whereas the lowest commodity trade has been achieved with Iceland. The most balanced trade has been recorded with Norway.  

Last year, 2,784 Serbian companies were involved in the export-import business with the Nordic countries, whereby the top 20 companies accounted for 66 per cent of Serbian exports to and 44 per cent of imports from the Nordic countries. The biggest exporters and importers are the Nordic companies operating in Serbia. Major exporter to the Nordic region was Grundfos Serbia, which is, at the same time, one of the biggest exporters in Serbia. The largest importer from the Nordic countries was Tetra Pak Production.

Major individual Serbian export products are raspberries, with the share of about 10 per cent in the total Serbian export to this market. Every second raspberry purchased by the Finnish comes from Serbia. The list of products that are mostly exported includes parts for machines, refrigerators with freezers, waterproof rubber footwear, circulation pumps, protein concentrations and pneumatic tyres. The import list is dominated by paper and paperboard, which account for almost a third of the value of import from the Nordic region. We also import parts for machines, medicines, base stations for wireless networks, caustic and sulphate pulp.

The biggest obstacle to expanding mutual trade is poor knowledge of each other’s  markets. An important role in elimination of the barrier and better information of businesspeople could be played by business associations. Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the Chamber of Commerce of Sweden signed in Stockholm, in February, a Memorandum of Cooperation to   strengthen economic relations and networking of the business communities of the two countries. The Nordic Business Alliance has been active in Serbia for five years, bringing together companies from the Nordic Region, which have been operating successfully in Serbia. The attractiveness of Serbia, as a new market for Nordic companies, is growing thanks to the reforms being implemented, progress in the process of European integration, and harmonization of legislation and implementation of European standards in manufacturing and business operations.  In that, the experience, knowledge, and business concepts brought by Nordic companies to Serbia are valuable, since the Nordic investors in Serbia, such as „Telenor“, „Elopak“ „Carlsberg“, „Eurolift“, „Tetrapak“, „Securitas“, „Grundfos“ or „Nokia“ are the best promoters of our country as a destination for investments and business. They brought to Serbia capital, but also modern management and new technologies, created new jobs and paved the way for new export channels for products labelled „Made in Serbia“. Based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the City of Belgrade with the representatives of IKEA, it is expected that this company will open its first store in Serbia at the end of 2016.

We see the potential for improving trade with the Nordic countries primarily in the food and textile sectors. Increase in export to the Swedish market is most realistic in the following areas: food industry (export of wine, organic fruit and vegetables, oil, tea), textile and footwear industries, furniture, metal industry, and IT sector.

In the coming period, Serbian producers will get connected with large retail chains – main distributers on the market of the Nordic countries. Frozen raspberries from Serbia have found their way to customers through the shelves of United Nordic. The same has happened with our car tires, metal structures, devices, veneer. There is also interest in frozen fruit and vegetables, and dried fruit, but also in purchase of ethnic food (ajvar /chutney/, pickled vegetables)

A chance for the Serbian textile industry is in the fact that the Nordic region is a large importer of textiles and that there is a demand for high quality products of original and modern design. In recent contacts, potential partners from Sweden have expressed interest in cooperation in the area of environmental protection (construction of landfills, water treatment plants), tourism (building hotels in Belgrade) and pharmaceutical industry.

Producers of soft drinks and juices, honey, fats and oils of animal and vegetable origin, cheese and gristmill products, furniture and furniture parts, garments and accessories have recorded growth of exports to Norway. There are possibilities to expand the cooperation with Norway in the field of ICT, metal processing, renewable energy sources, wood processing, and health tourism.

The possibilities for greater cooperation with Finland lie in the food sector, textile and leather industry, production of garments, footwear, and accessories. Along with exports of food, clothing and footwear, the cooperation and trade can also be strengthened by contract manufacturing in the area of metal and electric power complexes.  In view of the reputation of ICT companies from both countries, it is useful to foster and support their connections. Finland has expressed interest in the cooperation in the area of ecology and education.  For the development of spa and wellness tourism, and the health tourism capacities of Serbia, the experiences and knowledge of Finland in that area are very important.

Denmark is interested in the cooperation in manufacturing of agricultural machinery, food industry, pharmaceutical industry, and energy, especially in the production of green energy.  Serbia has the potential for growth in agriculture and food industry, and Denmark is known for its advanced technologies and know-how I these areas. This opens up many opportunities for linking of our companies.

ICT is another sector that provides outstanding opportunities for collaboration. Serbia has a highly qualified staff in this sector and the ability to export services (software, applications, video games) and the Danish investors have shown interest in investing in this sector. Although these are not high-value investments in scope, they would significantly contribute to employment and creation of well-paid jobs. Serbia is a good location for Danish investors, who are trying to shift their production to closer destinations. Denmark is a leader in the area of renewable energy sources, especially wind energy. Therefore, in our contacts, energy was in the focus of interest in our bilateral discussions. Although the Danish market is quite demanding, picky and with well-developed distribution channels, Serbian producers of textiles, furniture and food have a good supply and they are ready to win new customers on this market and the markets of other Nordic countries.  


Ten Reasons to Invest in Serbia 

1. Political stability, commitment to European integration and strengthening of regional cooperation

2. Commitment of the Serbian Government to reforms focused on the development of the economy – preservation of macroeconomic stability and ensuring stable, predictable and stimulating environment for investment and business operations for the purpose of accelerating economic growth and the creation of new jobs

3. Ideal geographical position between East and West, in the heart of Southeast Europe – for production, services and logistics

4. Functional infrastructure: transport, energy, telecommunications…

5. Duty free export of goods produced in Serbia to the market of almost 800 million people on the basis of free trade agreements (Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, CEFTA, EFTA, Free Trade Agreements with Russia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan and Turkey) and other benefits on the basis of bilateral agreements and arrangements with many countries on all continents

6. Fast company registration

7. Encouraging investment regime (legal security, national treatment of foreign investors and the possibility of repatriation of capital) and favourable tax system:

  • Lower tax rates than at competing investment destinations: general VAT rate in Serbia is 20 percent, income tax for citizens is 10 percent and profit tax is 15 percent with a proportionate exemption from this tax for investments in fixed assets larger than EUR 8.4 million and employment of at least 100 workers
  • Electronic payment system
  • Implementation of double taxation avoidance agreements with 50 countries
  • Customs exemptions to foreign investors for imports of equipment
  • Financial incentives aimed at new employment

8.  Available, high quality and competitive workforce (good educational system and a high level of English language proficiency)

9. High potential for innovations and obvious creativity of people

10. High quality of life

*President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia


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Textile & Fashion event in Borås

Marketplace Borås, Embassy of Bulgaria, Embassy of Serbia, Serbian Swedish Business Council, Invest Macedonia and SWETURK has organized Textile&Fashion event in Borås.

Audience had the opportunity to hear about trending business and investment opportunities in SEE textile markets. These markets offer long tradition in textile manufacturing, fast service, low minimum orders, and swift delivery to Sweden with superb quality. Moreover, fashion scene in SEE is arising together with great and perspective young designers and fashion brands.

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Serbia – Country of Natural Food

Located in the heart of South-East Europe, with ideal continental climate, fertile river valleys, sunny mountain landscapes, and Vojvodina plain as one of the largest granaries of Europe, Serbia boasts ideal natural conditions for growing crops, fruits and vegetables. The soil is still one of the cleanest in Europe, and most of the agriculture products are grown in perfect conditions.

When speaking of fruits, it has to be emphasized that it is hand-picked, carefully stored, and packaged in order to attain the highest possible quality and a unique flavor. Serbia’s diverse climate and ample land resources also create unique opportunities for the development of primary vegetable production.

Fruit production is one of the key sub-sectors of Serbia’s economic development and therefore given a strategic treatment by the Government of Serbia. In 2014 export of Serbian fruits increased for 11,4%, comparing to 2013, thanks to the increased production volumes of agricultural products and the use of new technologies.

In 2013 Serbia accounted for more than 40% of entire EU production and around 24% of global raspberry production. With around 68,000 tons produced and export revenues amounting to $230 million, Serbia was the largest exporter of raspberries in 2013 globally.

Around 80-85% of raspberry production is intended for export, mainly frozen in bulk. This constitutes a huge potential for investors who are thinking to start a production of final products with all kinds of different berries such as: spreads, jams, toppings, ingredients for ice-cream industry, fruit cubes for yoghurt production, etc.

Due to ideal climate conditions in southern Serbia, Serbian Oblacinska sour cherry reaches a global maximum of 19-21 briks. Depending on the season, annual export of Oblacinska is more than 90,000 tons and it is being used by all major European food-processing factories. Beside this, plums occupy more than 50% of orchards in Serbia, namely 42 million trees. They are mostly used for production of domestic plum brandy internationally known as “sljivovica”, while a minor part is used for drying and processing into plum jam and plum confiture, the most common breakfast sweet spread.

Serbia also has excellent climate conditions for vegetable production, which makes Serbia the main exporter and supplier of the South Eastern Europe. The most popular vegetables produced in Serbia are: paprika (pepper), cabbage, tomato and potato. Pepper production is oriented towards pasteurized pepper in different forms: shredded, cooked and roasted. Due to dry matter in it, majority of red pepper is used for production of aromatic spices, but also for preparing a traditional Serbian winter dish – “Ajvar”spread. Ajvar is prepared using a special recipe, with red peppers and eggplants, and could nowadays easily be found on every continent. Serbia has two very famous markets and pepper production centers: Leskovac area for production of dry and fresh pepper and northern Serbia for production of mild, hot, and crushed pepper for industrial spices. EU food processing industry is well acquainted with the quality of Serbian red pepper, as it is heavily using it for processing. Region around the city of Futog is famous for producing cabbage good both to be used fresh and for further processing. For example, Futoski cabbage is perfect for making Sauerkraut.

An excellent raw material base, network of FTAs (Free Trade Agreements), long tradition of high-quality food production and strong regional brands are key reasons world class companies have come to Serbia. The agro-food sector accounts for a massive proportion of foreign direct investments, whether in terms of value or of the number of projects.

By the means of the set of free trade agreements Serbia serves as a platform for duty-free export of foodstuff to a market of more than 800 million people. In addition to being the only country outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that has a free trade agreement with the Russian Federation, Serbia has such an agreement with the European Union and a number of other countries. That particular fact makes it a bridge between the east and the west and a hub for Euro/Asian market. Free trade agreements with EU, EFTA, CEFTA and Turkey allow for mutual accumulation of origin, as do the agreements with Custom Union of Russia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan, respectively. Export of agricultural products is on a constant rise and so is the trade balance that stood close to a billion euros in 2013. Serbia is the biggest exporter of foodstuff among CEFTA countries and the only net exporter.

In addition to excellent raw materials and conditions for producing high-quality, healthy food in Serbia, investors can also enjoy strong support from Serbia’s widely recognized fruit-research institutes. Research mainly focuses on technologically-advanced production that leads to high quality, environmentally-friendly seeds and vegetable crop production. Moreover, Serbian law prohibits the production and import of any genetically modified (GMO) foods and seeds.

Made-in-Serbia food is present around the globe, from Japan to the US, and is sold under Serbian brands and through world’s largest supermarket chains such as Tesco, Lidl, Asda, Spar, Carrefour, Metro, Idea, Leader price, X5 Retail group, Magnit, Auchan Group and Dixie Group, Kopeika, and Rewe. In the 2014, Serbia exported $2.8 billion of agriculture produce, which is for 12.3% higher than in the same period last year, making it one of the few industry sectors recording a trade surplus ($1.3 billion). International customers keep increasing orders for Serbian truffles, raspberries, apples, corn, juices, concentrates, purees, jams, frozen and dried fruit and other first-class produce.

Over the past decade, Serbian food industry highlighted the list of most attractive sectors for foreign investors. United States’ PepsiCo, Molson Coors, German NordZucker, Austrian Rauch, United Kingdom’s Mid Europa Partners, Denmark’s Carlsberg, and Belgium’s AB InBev and many others have built their factories in Serbia in order to supply local, but even more so markets of EU and the ever growing Russian market.

Serbian food products can also be found at the Sweden market. For many years Sweden is the most important economic partner of Serbia within the Nordic countries, but there still are plenty of possibilities for increasing mutual cooperation. According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, overall Serbian export to Sweden amounted €50 million, and imported goods from Sweden in the amount of almost €170 million.

Serbian food producers also participate within National stand of Serbia, organized by Serbia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA), at the most prestigious world fairs such as World Food Moscow, Anuga, Sial, etc.

For more information on Serbia food sector please visit

For more information on food producers please visit

Sirogojno Company

One of the leading food exporters from Serbia, and surely overall leader in exporting to Sweden is Sirogojno Co.

Sirogojno Co. is a family owned and run company. It was founded in 1991 in the village named Sirogojno in the region of Mount Zlatibor in Western Serbia. Ever since it has grown into one of the largest processors of frozen and dried fruit from Serbia, exporting in 35 countries across 4 continents. The core of the company’s business is the cooperation with the local community, the farmers who grow the fruit that is later processed and distributed by Sirogojno Co. across the world. The number of farmers is close to 4,000. The cooperation with them is based on continuous support by Sirogojno Co.’s field and crop experts, help through crediting for the purchase of fertilizers, irrigation systems and plant protection as well as educational seminars organized during the winter months. In addition to that, Sirogojno Co. aims at improving the quality of life within the region by initiating and carrying out numerous projects in order to improve infrastructure, health care and educational system as well as the cultural offer of the region. Sirogojno Company strives at combining the tradition of fruit growing and the favorable climatic conditions of the region with the latest standards in the food industry in order to produce best quality fruit at the highest possible level of food safety.

The products of Sirogojno Co. are divided into two areas – frozen and dried fruit. Within the two areas the products are divided into products packed for the retail and the ones processed for further industrial use. This diversification helps to attract a larger number of potential clients and markets. Besides raspberries, Sirogojno Co. is processing blackberries, wild blueberries, plums, sour cherries, black and red currants and strawberries among others. The dried fruits are produced through the process of sugar infusion which helps keep the color, structure and taste of the fruit and preserves it guaranteeing shelf life.

The production facilities of Sirogojno Co. are all certified according to IFS, BRC and ISO22000. Furthermore, the company fulfills the BSCI and Sedex social standards and the company’s farmers are GlobalGAP certified. The equipment used for processing is of the latest standards in the industry and helps to assure a maximum level of hygienic standards and well as product quality and safety.

Sirogojno Co.’s export markets are the US and Canada, Japan, Australia, and most of the EU countries including Sweden, which has been an important market to the company ever since the introduction of its products in 2001. Since then the volume of products exported grew by nearly 20 times and more products and packages have been introduced.

A fair price paired with superb quality have been the key to success on the Swedish market for the last 14 years, especially when it comes to retail. Sirogojno Co. has build a successful relationship with ICA packing their private labels and assuring the highest possible quality and product safety to both the client as well as to the end consumers. Swedish consumers are very conscious towards ethical standards throughout the production chain, so company’s dedication to social responsibility has been an important aspect for building a successful and sustainable relationship with Swedish companies.

By Serbia Investment and Export Promotion Agency and Sirogojno Co.

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