ICT and Clean Technology Mission to Serbia and Montenegro
ICT and Clean Technology Trade Mission to Serbia & Montenegro | October 31 – November 4, 2022
Official U.S. Department of Commerce High-Profile ICT and Clean Technology Trade Mission to Serbia and Montenegro offered access key decision-makers and growing business opportunities.
In Serbia, the participants had a full day of in-person meetings in Belgrade including high-level market briefing; meetings with Serbian key decision makers including President, the Prime Minister, and Minister of Finance, Ministers of Mining and Energy and Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, as well as CEOs of key public companies. The following days included Business Matchmaking: Regional Plenary Event, one-on-one meetings, and regional networking reception.
The Western Balkan regional plenary event and following networking reception featured stakeholders from each of the six markets (Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia). During the event, participants met with key public and private sector stakeholders from the different markets to learn about commercial opportunities in the wider region.
In Montenegro, the mission participants had high-level market briefing; meetings with Montenegrin government key decision makers; Government and Business Roundtable; AmCham business luncheon; business matchmaking; followed by reception hosted by Ambassador Reinke.
In the News:
Market Brief: Serbia
Serbia is located in the heart of Southeast Europe (SEE), specifically West Balkans, the crossroads of Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The West Balkans region is home to emerging markets of varying size, all of which have economic development plans focused on bringing their legal, labor and tax codes; educational and medical systems; energy, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructures; and security/defense frameworks up to European standards.
With a population of nearly 7 million, Serbia is the largest and most prosperous economy in the Western Balkans, serving as a regional hub and springboard for companies to access the larger regional market.
- The Government of Serbia is continuing to allocate billions of dollars toward various infrastructure improvements, including significant investments in ICT and Clean Technologies.
- In ICT, the government is using its strong fiscal position to make much needed investments into digitization across every sector, including the whole of government as well as the country’s digital infrastructure. Increasingly government platforms are moving online as Serbia adopts e-government solutions with a leadership dedicated also to digitizing the already strong school system and helping to rear a new digital workforce. Serbia will continue to invest in ultrafast broadband connections with new fiber access and increase network availability for all users, thus providing broadband with speeds of at least 100 Mbps. The strategy also calls for the development of a New Generation Network in rural areas and other regions in Serbia that are not economical for private operators.
- Across the board in each subsector, Serbia needs to invest in modernization of energy facilities and in environmental technologies. Serbia is looking to diversify its energy supply and incorporate cleaner energy sources. The environmental technology sector is in its infancy, with substantial opportunities in remediation, municipal and industrial waste, wastewater processing, recycling, and air quality.
- Serbia needs to install 5,000 GWh of new generating capacity per year – 15 percent of current production in the next six years to replace outdated production facilities. This equates to additional investments of at least 3 billion euros for the construction of new and rehabilitation of the existing power plants, coal production and homogenization, and the reduction of power distribution losses. A substantial portion of this new production will come from renewable energy.
- Meanwhile, Serbia’s accession to the EU means looming targets for higher environmental standards that it is presently ill-equipped to meet.
Market Entry Strategy:
The Serbian Law on Trade, which regulates the activities of wholesalers and retailers, ensures that any firm may operate in foreign and domestic trade in Serbia. U.S. businesses planning to enter the Serbian market should consider the following:
- It is helpful to visit the country early in the market exploration phase to develop industry contacts and understand Serbian bureaucratic structure.
- New entrants to established sectors will often be competing with nearby suppliers from Croatia and Slovenia, as well as other dominant EU member country exporters, who benefit substantially from lower tariffs and various other trade preferences. Chinese exporters are present, as in other markets, supplying extremely low-cost goods of varying quality and customer-service support.
- For a new-to-market company, it is important to identify a local partner. The selection should be based on a potential partner’s knowledge of the local market and a thorough check of its reputation. Sales agents, representatives, and distributors all have important roles to play in this market. Regardless of which channel is selected, sales support and after-sales services are critical.
- Financing is a key consideration for Serbian companies when considering whether to take on a new U.S. product line—though very large sales can benefit from U.S. EXIM Bank lending.
- Consumer demand can be very price-sensitive in Serbia.
- The United States and Serbia do not have a tax treaty to avoid double taxation, although U.S. authorities may accept a filing of foreign-earned income exclusion in practice.
Market Brief: Montenegro
Montenegro has adopted an investment framework to encourage growth, employment, and exports. Although the continuing transition has not eliminated all structural barriers, the government recognizes the need to remove impediments, ensure business-friendly policies and improve transparency and open the economy to foreign investors.
Montenegro makes no distinction between domestic and foreign companies. Foreign companies can own 100 percent of a domestic company, while profits and dividends can be repatriated without limitations or restrictions. Exceptions to this policy are the small number of cases dealing with defense-related industries.
The Montenegrin government is committed to pursue its candidacy with the European Union and continues to make concrete steps to improve its business climate by further aligning its commercial standards and regulations with the EU’s regulatory framework.
- ICT and Energy are amongst the key sectors for Montenegrin economic development, in addition to the more traditional industries such as tourism, energy and agriculture.
- Montenegro has fully harmonized its ICT regulations with the EU’s regulatory framework, which provides investors with a stable investment environment. Montenegro’s strategic goals in ICT are identical to those defined by the Digital Agenda 2020 for Europe and the vision of the Gigabit Society until 2025. The well-developed telecommunication sector, with three international players present, has begun rolling out 5G technology. Investments in the IT/cyber security and data protection are expected to grow. U.S. technology and solutions firms are well positioned for the Montenegrin market, with opportunities in software development, hardware, digitalization and e-services, and ICT education.
- Energy is one of the Montenegrin economy’s key sectors and is crucial for the country’s future development. The most important development project in the energy sector’s transmission system was the construction of a one-way underwater electricity cable to export power to Italy that began operation in December 2019. The Government of Montenegro is actively pursuing additional energy sources including renewable energy production like solar and wind power generation, as well as establishing an LNG distribution network. To fully develop this sector, Montenegro will need to upgrade its transmission and distribution network. The Montenegrin government also signed concession agreements for exploratory offshore oil and gas drilling, with two consortia: the Italian-Russian consortium Eni/Novatek for four blocks and the Greek-British consortium Energean oil/Mediterranean oil & gas for one block. Additionally, there are several ongoing renewable and fossil fuel energy projects around the country, including a Chinese-financed ecological reconstruction of the existing block of the coal-fired thermal plant in Pljevlja; development of a 170 MW hydropower plant on the Komarnica River, and construction of a 200 MW solar power plant in Ulcinj.
Market Entry Strategy:
Agents and distributors are commonly used by foreign firms to enter the Montenegrin market.
*related to Energy
|Monday, October 31, 2022||
|Tuesday, November 1, 2022
|Wednesday, November 2, 2022
|Thursday, November 3, 2022
|Friday, November 4, 2022
Fees & Expenses
|For small or medium-sized enterprises*||$1,710|
|For large firms||$3,600|
|Each additional representative with a limit of 2 per participating company||$1,000|
Expenses for travel, lodging, meals, and incidentals will be the responsibility of each mission participant.
State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants may be available for your state. Learn about STEP Grants.
*For purposes of assessing participation fees, an applicant is a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) if it qualifies under the the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) size standards, which vary by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code, or it has less than $1 billion in annual revenue (including affiliates: parent, child, subsidiaries, divisions, etc.). The SBA Size Standards Tool can help you determine the qualifications that apply to your company.