Serbia - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges

Learn about barriers to market entry and local requirements, i.e., things to be aware of when entering the market for this country.

Last published date: 2021-03-07

Serbia is still an emerging market. Despite significant progress in economic and administrative reforms, serious problems remain. These challenges include: weak rule of law; political interference in the economy; a slow-moving judicial system subject to political pressure; legislative and regulatory unpredictability; both real and perceived issues of corruption; an overly complex and sometimes non-transparent bureaucracy; an opaque tendering process, and difficulties in collecting payments from both public and private entities. Public procurement is usually awarded on a lowest-cost basis.  Best value is legally allowed, but institutions are hesitant to utilize this option over fears of transparency. Likewise, there are concerns over incorporating life-cycle costs, having fair and open tender specifications, and composing the lots in a way that ensures participation of eligible vendors. Overall, the business and investment climate in Serbia is still considered difficult, requiring caution and patience for success by foreign companies.

Ongoing improvements in administrative procedures, such as customs, business registration, licensing, and e-procurement have improved the business climate. However, implementation is key, and many government agencies still avoid public consultation and/or regulatory impact assessments, which can make long-term business planning a major challenge. Access to adequate financial resources for Serbian consumers/importers is also an issue.