Serbia Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Serbia has a transitional economy largely dominated by market forces, but the state sector remains significant in certain areas. The economy relies on manufacturing and exports, driven largely by foreign investment. MILOSEVIC-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, civil war, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy worse off than it was in 1990. In 2015, Serbia’s GDP was 27.5% below where it was in 1989.

After former Federal Yugoslav President MILOSEVIC was ousted in September 2000, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition government implemented stabilization measures and embarked on a market reform program. Serbia renewed its membership in the IMF in December 2000 and rejoined the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Serbia has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, but many large enterprises - including the power utilities, telecommunications company, natural gas company, and others - remain state-owned. Serbia has made some progress towards EU membership, gaining candidate status in March 2012. In January 2014, Serbia's EU accession talks officially opened and, as of December 2017, Serbia had opened 12 negotiating chapters including one on foreign trade. Serbia's negotiations with the WTO are advanced, with the country's complete ban on the trade and cultivation of agricultural biotechnology products representing the primary remaining obstacle to accession. Serbia maintains a three-year Stand-by Arrangement with the IMF worth approximately $1.3 billion that is scheduled to end in February 2018. The government has shown progress implementing economic reforms, such as fiscal consolidation, privatization, and reducing public spending.

Unemployment in Serbia, while relatively low (16% in 2017) compared with its Balkan neighbors, remains significantly above the European average. Serbia is slowly implementing structural economic reforms needed to ensure the country's long-term prosperity. Serbia reduced its budget deficit to 1.7% of GDP and its public debt to 71% of GDP in 2017. Public debt had more than doubled between 2008 and 2015. Serbia's concerns about inflation and exchange-rate stability preclude the use of expansionary monetary policy.

Major economic challenges ahead include: stagnant household incomes; the need for private sector job creation; structural reforms of state-owned companies; strategic public sector reforms; and the need for new foreign direct investment. Other serious longer-term challenges include an inefficient judicial system, high levels of corruption, and an aging population. Factors favorable to Serbia's economic growth include the economic reforms it is undergoing as part of its EU accession process and IMF agreement, its strategic location, a relatively inexpensive and skilled labor force, and free trade agreements with the EU, Russia, Turkey, and countries that are members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.

Real GDP growth rate

4.18% (2019 est.)

4.4% (2018 est.)

2.05% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.1% (2019 est.)

-1.1% (2018 est.)

2% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BB+ (2019)

Moody's rating: Ba3 (2017)

Standard & Poors rating: BB+ (2019)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$126.625 billion (2019 est.)

$121.464 billion (2018 est.)

$116.239 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 83

GDP (official exchange rate)

$51.449 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$18,233 (2019 est.)

$17,395 (2018 est.)

$16,556 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 98

Gross national saving

18.2% of GDP (2019 est.)

18.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

15.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 123

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 9.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 41.1% (2017 est.)

services: 49.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 78.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 10.1% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 18.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 52.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -61.3% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 75.7 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 89.3 (2020)

Trading score: 96.6 (2020)

Enforcement score: 63.1 (2020)

Agricultural products

maize, wheat, sugar beet, milk, sunflower seed, potatoes, soybeans, plums/sloes, apples, barley


automobiles, base metals, furniture, food processing, machinery, chemicals, sugar, tires, clothes, pharmaceuticals

Industrial production growth rate

3.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

Labor force

3 million (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 104

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 19.4%

industry: 24.5%

services: 56.1% (2017 est.)

Unemployment rate

14.1% (2017 est.)

15.9% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Population below poverty line

23.2% (2018 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

36.2 (2017 est.)

28.2 (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 93

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.2%

highest 10%: 23.8% (2011)


revenues: 17.69 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 17.59 billion (2017 est.)

note: data include both central government and local goverment budgets

Taxes and other revenues

42.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 30

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

Public debt

62.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

73.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 71

Current account balance

-$2.354 billion (2017 est.)

-$1.189 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 170


$15.92 billion (2017 est.)

$13.99 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 85

Exports - partners

Germany 12%, Italy 10%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 7%, Romania 6%, Russia 5%  (2019)

Exports - commodities

insulated wiring, tires, corn, cars, iron products, copper (2019)


$20.44 billion (2017 est.)

$17.63 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Imports - partners

Germany 13%, Russia 9%, Italy 8%, Hungary 6%, China 5%, Turkey 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

crude petroleum, cars, packaged medicines, natural gas, refined petroleum (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$11.91 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$10.76 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Debt - external

$30.927 billion (2019 est.)

$30.618 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Exchange rates

Serbian dinars (RSD) per US dollar -

112.4 (2017 est.)

111.278 (2016 est.)

111.278 (2015 est.)

108.811 (2014 est.)

88.405 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Serbia on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Serbia 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Serbia 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.