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flag Serbia Serbia: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Main International Economic Cooperation
In international trade, Serbia shows a preference for relations with the EU and the United States. Nevertheless, the Serbian government also wants to develop privileged relations with its neighbors as proved by the bilateral treaties signed with Bulgaria and Romania. A free trade agreement has been signed as well with Belarus (2009) and Russia(2001).
Non Tariff Barriers
Serbia uses a system of documentation which is relatively standard for import-export transactions and the trend is towards harmonization of procedures with those of the European Union. Import licences have been abolished for all goods except : arms and munitions, police and military equipment, antiques, works of art, precious metals, waste and substances which are dangerous for the ozone layer.


The label on each product must be written in Serbian and contain the following information : name of the product, full address of the producer or importer, net quantity/weight/volume, ingredients, storage and transport recommendations, and important recommendations for the consumer. Technically complicated goods must have instructions for use, the manufacturer's specifications, a list of authorized maintenance centers, information about the guarantee and especially its duration.

A certain number of products are banned from import, particularly because they are dangerous for the environment. These are :
- second-hand cars which do not have a Euro type engine
- 3 minimum in terms of maximum tolerated levels of noise and exhaust gas
- tractors, building and mining equipment more than three years old (except those imported for humanitarian reasons)
- dangerous waste,
- toxic substances.

For further information:
- the Ministry of Health

- the Ministry of Agriculture

- the European Commission Market Access website

- the Customs Administration (Serbian version only)

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Serbia has officially lifted barriers to imports and exports. However, some taxes are still applied. Non-tariff barriers in the form of import quotas are established in appearance to protect national industries, but in fact protect monopolies operated by people close to the government. In 2002, taxes applied included Customs duties (9-30%, average 9.4), import taxes (1-9%), Customs fees (1%), surtax on some agricultural goods, seasonal import taxes (20%), and State duties (5-70%).

Serbia has set up free zones in the regions of Smederrevo, Kovin, Nis, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sabac, Pahovo, Sombor, Sremska Mitrovica, Subotica, and Zrenjanin.

Customs Classification
In February 2004, Serbia applied to become a member of the WTO. On 27 November 2007, at the 4th meeting of the Membership Work Group, the members of the WTO examined Serbia's dossier and assessed the progress made in the bilateral negotiations concerning goods and services access to markets.


The members fully supported Serbia's rapid accession and noted with satisfaction the ambitious legislative action plan describing the various reforms undertaken by Serbia to change its trade regime. But a few thorny points still remain: import licenses, quantitative restrictions on imports of some petroleum derivatives, internal taxation, suspension of duties, OTCs and SPS measures.

However, quotas have been abolished and the number of import licences reduced. The amendment of the Customs Tariffs Act of July 2005 makes it compatible with the application of the Harmonized Customs system (HS). Customs duties go from 0% to 30%, according to the products and according to the partners. The most heavily taxed goods are arms and munitions.
In 2000, two series of measures were introduced to strengthen trade relations between the EU and Serbia : asymmetrical trade preferences and agreements on stabilization and association.

Import Procedures
 The amendment of the Customs Tariffs Act of July 2005 makes it compatible with the application of the Harmonized Customs System (HS).
For Further Information
Customs Office in Serbia

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
There are 7.5 million consumers in Serbia, which makes the country the second largest market in the region. Serbians consume far more fruit and vegetables than Western Europeans. They are more concerned about the quality of food than other Europeans; a proof of this is that Serbia is the European country that uses the fewest pesticides, and a large place is given to organic agriculture. The textile industry is a flagship Serbian industry, and consumers benefit from good value for money, which makes them demanding when purchasing. Leading technologies such as telephone and video are highly-prized by consumers.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
About 90% of Serbian consumers only buy fresh poultry meat, but, as lifestyles change and urbanization grows, it is forecast that demand for ready to cook cuts of frozen poultry will increase. The demand for fresh and frozen meat in general is likely to increase as household income rises. However, consumers in Serbia fear that North American turkey and chicken contain abnormally high levels of hormones, and this has given rise to a market of poultry "raised without hormones, antibiotics or additives", with a much higher price.
Consumers Associations
Apos , Association of Serbian Consumers
Main Advertising Agencies
PAN. Advertising agency in Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia.
Portal for finding advertising agencies in Serbia.

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Distributing a Product

Market Shares
Purchases are essentially of fresh produce and for small sums. The main buying places are green markets, mini-markets and flea markets. Consumer foodstuffs are generally produced locally. Imports only represent a marginal part of traditional distribution and mass marketing (between 15 and 20%).

Small local shops represent 75% of distribution. There are 20.000 to 30.000 retail outlets for the food sector. Prices are ofter lower than in supermarkets. There are also many open air markets.

Mass marketing was dominated until December 2002 by three big national supermarket chains :
- C-Market  leader of the food market,
- Pekabeta

Hypermarkets appeared in Serbia in December 2002 with the arrival of Mercator.
Note the presence of the French Intermarché through Interex supermarkets in Cacak, Nis, Zajecar and Sabac (since December 2006).

Electronic commerce is only just starting up.There is no general law on electronic commerce in Serbia but a Digital Signature Act was passed in December 2004 and its enforcement is in progress.
For distribution other than food, it should be noted that there are still few shopping centers. Large scale expansion can be expected in the coming years, concurrently with the development of hypermarkets. The ready-to-wear and accessory sectors are for the moment those most often found, but the sectors of leisure, beauty products and especially products for DIY and the home should expand.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Goods transport in Serbia remains essentially dominated by road transport.
Port of Belgrade
Nis Airport
Belgrade Airport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Serbian industry is very specific and its main activity is sugar processing, the production of agricultural machinery, electric and communications equipment and the production of paper. The textile industry does not have a very significant place in Serbian industries, but consumers choose preponderantly national textiles.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Food & Drink Catalogue - Business directory of the food industry in Serbia. - Business directory for Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.
Serbian Business Directory - Free business directory for Serbian businesses in Serbia and other countries.
Yellow Pages - Find a business in Montenegro.
Yellow Pages - Find a business in Serbia.
Yellow Pages - Serbia's Yellow Pages.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
2 professional associations listed for Serbia.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Serbian Chamber of Commerce
Enterprises Federation
Serbian association of employers

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Last Updates: October 2014