Economic relations between France and Serbia are limited, with low levels of trade, French firms accounting for a much smaller share of the Serbian market than their German or Italian counterparts, and still relatively modest levels of investment given the historically positive image of a country that forms the backbone of the Balkans.
Although trade between France and Serbia was expanding rapidly prior to the 2008 financial crisis, it was still at a very low level and has not been spared the effects of the global downturn. French exports to Serbia in 2012 grew by 4.7% to €274 million (compared to €293 million in 2008 and €232 million in 2010). France’s imports were substantially lower (€205 million), producing a trade surplus of €69 million in France’s favour. Serbia accounts for 47% of French exports to the Western Balkans (excluding Croatia) and 43% of our imports from the region. Bilateral trade (€479 million) is still well below pre-2008 levels (a total of €514 million in 2007).
France’s share of the Serbian market has been gradually whittled away over the last five years, mainly due to the slump in the automotive market. With a market share now slightly below 2% (compared to 3% in 2008), France ranks as Serbia’s 10th biggest supplier (a long way behind Russia, Germany and Italy) and its 12th biggest customer (2.4%).
France’s aggregate investment in Serbia amounted to €892 million in 2012, out of a total of some €15 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Serbia. France ranks 10th in the league of foreign investors with a share of 4.1%, behind countries such as Russia, Italy, Germany and Austria. Our FDI stock in Serbia represents 46% of our investment in the countries of the former Yugoslavia (excluding Slovenia). Investment flows in 2012 reached €50 million, putting France in fourth place.
There are some 90 French businesses operating in Serbia, employing around 10,000 people spread over the manufacturing sector, financial services and the remainder of the service sector. Michelin is the biggest French employer, with 1,500 people working on its Pirot site. The French business community is represented by a Franco-Serbian Chamber of Commerce of fairly recent date (2009), which currently has around a hundred members.
Updated on 05.04.13
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