FDI in Serbia

In the last 2 years (2018 and 2019), total FDI inflows in Serbia amounted to EUR 7.2bn. The most attractive sector of economy was Manufacturing (EUR 1.9bn or 26% of total FDI) followed by Construction (EUR 1.4bn or 19%), Transportation and storage (EUR 1.2bn or 17%), Financial and insurance (EUR 581mn or 8%). Information and communication Sector recorded a negative inflow, EUR -2mn, mainly because of 2018, when the negative inflow was EUR -212mn, while in 2019 this sector recorded positive inflow of 202mn.  

The majority of investments in the last 2 years came from the European Union (EUR 4bn). The most active countries were: Netherlands (EUR 1bn), Germany (EUR 539mn), Hungary (EUR 512mn) and Austria (EUR 496mn). Among non-European countries the majority of investments came from Russia and China (including Hong Kong), EUR 949mn and 928mn, respectively. In 2018, Cyprus disinvested EUR 183mn.  

Intesa Sanpaolo group - Banca Intesa

After acquisition, local bank Banca Intesa Beograd was integrated in Intesa Sanpaolo group with strong focus on further development of commercial banking services, both for retail and corporate customers.

Western Balkans 6 region was and still is underbanked (based on average debt to income ratio) compared to other regional countries (Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary...). In addition, this region is poised to record better than average growth figures of economic output, employment, wages, new investments that shall positively affect banking revenues. Furthermore, planned accession to EU will foster stability and further economic development of the region.

Overall experience is very positive. Serbia recorded overall good macroeconomic stability and solid growth numbers. Due to strong focus on improvement of economic conditions and well-educated and relatively low cost labor, significant growth of FDI was realized which positively affected business environment.

Foreign investors shall understand that each country has certain specifics and that local customization of the global approach is needed in order to succeed.

General recommendations for all regional governments are: to improve judicial system and enhance rule of law, to finalize transition from old economic model characterized by large influence of state and state owned companies to privately owned economy, to increase investments in infrastructure.

In general, region shall have positive outlook, however certain differences exist among the countries depending on their current macroeconomic standing.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Italy €1 billion 2005 2924 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania
Draginja Đurić, CEO


The biggest challenge for IKEA were administrative procedures that we had to face with; lack of urban planning and infrastructure; legal administrative issues etc. On the other hand great support from officials was received by introduction of an online platform for the issuance of an electronic building permit.

It is important to have a good organization in place and make sure that all cooperation with vendors and officials is done transparently.

It would be great to align regulations and administrative procedures, as well as introduce online registers and digital platforms for public administration purposes.

This market is in the phase of many investments and is developing very fast. Great potential for further growth.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Sweden €70 million 2017 Approx. 400 Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania
Vladislav Lalic, Regional Property & Expansion Manager

Ball Corporation

The €75 million investment in aluminium can production facility in Belgrade came as a logical step after throughout researches of the regional and local market development possibilities.

Ball invested in Serbia believing in regional market and its further development. Furthermore, we were impressed by huge number of local educated and highly skilled people that were able to work in a multicultural environment where English language is used. Having that in mind, after 10 years of operation in Serbia, Ball decided to establish a big Global Shared Service center that now employs almost 100 highly skilled people who are working as a support to all other Ball facilities and offices all over Europe and AMEA region.

Overall experience during Ball`s operation in Serbia is of course very positive. The biggest strength is that the regional market is slight ahead of European average regarding beverage consumption growth and operations can work with optimum cost base. No less significant is the availability of skilled and dedicated employees. I am very pleased that Serbia and our valuable people have proven that the systemic planning of an US company in synergy with dedicated and professional staff can boost business to the highest level and bring world-class results. On the other hand, as a fully and fast operational US company we see some weaknesses that should be overcome such as slow bureaucracy and paperwork, especially in the area of issuing of local permits, customs procedure, digitalization etc. Also, in order to facilitate the work of foreign companies, adjustment to European laws should be more efficient.

Based on the experience and results achieved in practice, I would like to tell all foreign companies that in Serbia they have a huge prospect for success.

As recommendation to the Government, I would suggest that it would be very helpful and professional to introduce governmental key accounts for each area of businesses and establish a one point of contact for big investors. That would surely encourage foreign companies to invest in Serbia and reduce timing burden that is more and more critical when doing business.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
USA €150million 2005 Close to 300 One production facility in Belgrade. Distribution is active in all countries in Europe and the region as well.
Branislav Savić, CEO

Philip Morris International

Our operations in Serbia comprise the cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris Operations a.d.Nis (PMOP) and Philip Morris Services d.o.o. (PMSE). In total we employ around 900 people across the country. The Niš factory is one of the most advanced operations in PMI’s global network of factories and we are the market leader in Serbia.

We see advantages of the reigon in availability of skilled workforce, good strategic position and competitive operating cost.

Transparent, predictable and inclusive legislative process, rule of law, together with enterpreneurial spirit of a Government itself are key prerogatives for creating good investment climate in country and improving competitiveness.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
USA US$ 830 million 2013 900 Regionally our products are available in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, and Turkey.
Jelena Pavlović, CEO


For 130 years, through business in areas of generating, transmitting and distributing energy, production of oil and gas solutions, transport and infrastructure, Siemens has provided a key contribution to realization of capital investments in Serbia and has become a symbol of innovations, quality, reliability and engineering expertise.

The important link in Siemens Serbia is wind generator factory in Subotica which counts over 1,200 employees, and for a decade and a half of its existence the factory is marked as a symbol of Siemens quality. The new and planned reinforcement in Siemens Serbia is acquisition of Serbian company Milanović inženjering specialized in producing aluminum car body components for rail vehicles.

Each region and each market has its own specifics, I see a huge business potential here, in terms of economy development and quality workforce. Looking at business relations with the clients, there is present a certain level of partnership and even friendship, which can help you create better business environment and results.

Serbia has massive potential in industrial production in various verticals. Siemens’ success stories prove that Serbia in general is a very good place for a production location. Productivity and quality of the qualified workforce who are motivated and adaptive, with long industrial culture provides an attractive basis for every foreign investor. Serbia has good geographic location which enables quick and easy access to other CEE and SEE countries. Additionally, the universities bring very good engineers to the markets.

Balkan is a region in a transition process, which with its many challenges also offers great opportunities for a future prosperity and chance to drive this part of Europe forward - to the new age - the one we can see in more developed countries in the world. This creates comparative advantage for this region, and the best indicator that the business climate is changing and enhancing is the increase in the number of major global companies choosing this location for their production site.

Serbia is definitely going forward but being a country in transition implies that digitalization of industry sector is still not on a high level and that investing in Industry 4.0 is a priority for further strengthening of country’s economy.

Region is moving forward in providing support to companies and their investments. Every year the situation is better, and we can all see clear improvements and new investments and creating stronger industrial base.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Germany Austria NA 1887 – First Siemens Project in Serbia 1996 – company founded Siemens d.o.o. Belgrade App. 1,500 Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, (Kosovo)
Udo Eichlinger, CEO



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