Serbia’s Top 10 Exports

Serbia’s Top 10 Exports

House in Serbian woods

A landlocked nation in southeastern Europe that has secure access to the Black Sea via the international waterway Danube, the Republic of Serbia shipped US$19.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 29.5% gain since 2014 and a 13.4% increase from 2017 to 2018.

Given that Serbia is landlocked, it will come as no surprise that Serbian exports are highly concentrated with 91.6% arriving in fellow European countries. Smaller percentages go to Asia (5.5%), North America (1.6%) and Africa (1%).

More than half (55.9%) of products exported from Serbia were bought by importers in: Italy (12.3% of the global total), Germany (12%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (7.9%), Romania (5.9%), Russia (5.3%), Montenegro (4.7%), Hungary (4%) and Bulgaria (3.8%).

Given Serbia’s population of 7.1 million people, its total $19.2 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $2,700 for every resident in the landlocked southeastern European country.

In macroeconomic terms, Serbia’s total exported goods represent 15.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($122.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 15.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 18.7% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Serbia’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Serbia also provided $7.1 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 5.8% of GDP in PPP.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Serbia’s unemployment rate was 12.1% at March 2019 down from 14.8% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Serbia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Serbian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Serbia.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$2.6 billion (13.6% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $1.3 billion (7%)
  3. Vehicles: $1.3 billion (6.7%)
  4. Iron, steel: $1 billion (5.4%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $961 million (5%)
  6. Rubber, rubber articles: $932.2 million (4.9%)
  7. Copper: $653 million (3.4%)
  8. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $612.3 million (3.2%)
  9. Fruits, nuts: $584.5 million (3.1%)
  10. Mineral fuels including oil: $552.9 million (2.9%)

Serbia’s top 10 exports accounted for 55% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Iron and steel was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 38.3% in value from 2017 to 2018.

In second place for improving export sales was the mineral fuels including oil category which appreciated 28.2%.

Exported rubber and articles made from rubber posted the third-fastest gain via an 18.3% improvement.

Only two top categories declined year over year, namely the -9.3% setback for vehicles exported from Serbia and a -11.6% reduction for fruits and nuts.

At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Serbia’s most valuable exported good is insulated wire and cable. In second place are exported cars trailed by new rubber tires, hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products, electric motors and generators, copper, then frozen fruits and nuts.

Advantages

The following types of Serbian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Rubber, rubber articles: US$552.8 million (Up by 26.4% since 2017)
  2. Cereals: $439.1 million (Up by 19.5%)
  3. Fruits, nuts: $362.2 million (Down by -19%)
  4. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $350.7 million (Up by 30.7%)
  5. Iron, steel: $337.6 million (Up by 64.4%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $286.3 million (Down by -1.5%)
  7. Copper: $281 million (Down by -0.6%)
  8. Footwear: $218.5 million (Up by 13.3%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $172.3 million (Down by -45.3%)
  10. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $122.2 million (Up by 14.5%)

Serbia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of rubber-related materials and goods. In turn, these cashflows indicate Serbia’s strong competitive advantages under the rubber and rubber articles category.

Opportunities

Serbia incurred a -$6.6 billion trade deficit in 2018, up 28% from the -$5.2 billion in red ink for 2017.

Below are exports from Serbia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Serbia’s goods trail Serbian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2.4 billion (Up by 27.7% since 2017)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$868 million (Up by 23.9%)
  3. Pharmaceuticals: -$558 million (Up by 17.1%)
  4. Vehicles : -$487.1 million (Up by 93.9%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$457.5 million (Up by 22.9%)
  6. Ores, slag, ash: -$351.3 million (Up by 6.2%)
  7. Other chemical goods: -$254.2 million (Up by 25.1%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$200.2 million (Up by 27%)
  9. Perfumes, cosmetics: -$189.3 million (Up by 15.4%)
  10. Paper, paper items: -$127.9 million (Up by 32.4%)

Serbia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for products related to mineral fuels notably petroleum oils, petroleum gases and coke or semi-coke.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Serbia’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Serbia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.

Companies

Serbian Export Companies

Given that Serbia is an emerging economy, it should come as no surprise that not one Serbian corporation appears on the Forbes Global 2000 list.

Wikipedia does outline some smaller-scale Serbian export companies. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Estonia Piano Factory (pianos)
  • Liviko (vodka, other alcoholic beverages)
  • Narva Oil Plant (shale oil)
  • Rakvere Lihakombinaat (meat products)
  • Rexer Ltd (automobiles)
  • Saku Brewery (beer, cider, soft drinks, water)
  • Tartu Mill AS (grains)
  • Tondi Elektroonika (hearing aids)


 

Serbia’s capital city is Belgrade.

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 13, 2019

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 2, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 13, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 13, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 2, 2019

Wikipedia, Landlocked country. Accessed on February 13, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Serbia. Accessed on February 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 2, 2019