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Serbia Summary

Serbia is currently a candidate country for entry into the European Union and is considered an associate member. It began negotiations in early 2014 to discuss joining the EU and the eurozone, and to eventually adopt the (EUR) as its official currency. For now, its official currency is the Serbian dinar (RSD). Serbia’s economy and the stability of the dinar are overseen by the National Bank of Serbia, which imposes some currency controls, especially to curb inflation, and intervenes in the foreign exchange markets when it deems necessary. The dinar is not currently pegged to any currency. Serbia places few restrictions on overseas money transfers, whether sending money to or out of the country.

Serbia's money transfer regulations

All money transfers and remittances into and out of Serbia are regulated by the National Bank of Serbia. The country’s Foreign Investment Law provides a guarantee that residents and non-residents have the right to transfer and repatriate profits from Serbia, and can send money into Serbia, relatively easily. Serbian non-residents are able to open and maintain dinar and foreign currency denominated bank accounts without restrictions, and are able to use these accounts for making or receiving FX payments. In December of 2012, the Serbian government amended the Foreign Exchange Law to permit Serbian citizens to make international money transfers using online payment systems such as PayPal.

Personal remittance payments to Serbia from citizens living abroad make up a significant source of income for Serbian households. According to the US State Department, in 2013 Serbians received remittances totaling US 4bn, which equaled more than nine percent of its total GDP.

Serbia's monetary and regulatory authority

The National Bank of Serbia monitors the country’s financial system and oversees the country’s cash and electronic payments system, as well as its domestic banking system. Serbia is a member of the monitoring body of the Council of Europe, which monitors compliance with anti-money laundering initiatives. This body, the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), reviews and assesses each member country’s ability to enforce international standards to counter and prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. In 2010, the Serbia Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Law was amended to require its banks and any financial institutions transacting funds for customers to gather data about the transactions, the entity or person making the transaction, and to monitor any unusual transactions. The changes made to the law also expanded the role of the Anti-Money Laundering Unit within the Ministry of Finance, giving it supervisory authority over a variety of institutions and businesses within Serbia, including international money transfer entities.

Foreign investment in Serbia

Serbia has an improving investment climate and shows promising signs of political progress. It permits a relatively free flow of capital into its borders for investments, such as the acquisition of real estate property or the purchase of equipment. However, there are some restrictions on how capital is used, especially by non-residents. For example, non-residents are not permitted to transfer capital for the purchase of domestic short-term securities.

Although Serbia is one of the smaller economies in Europe, it is still considered an upper-middle class economy, with strong GDP growth in recent years. However, it also suffers from high unemployment and a large trade deficit, due in large part to its geographical location as a landlocked country with limited natural resources and the need to import most necessities from neighboring countries. Currently, Serbia has free trade agreements in place with the EU, Russia, and Belarus.

Serbia’s large deficit has caused the country to attempt to fix the resulting budget gap by increasing taxes. In 2012, the Serbian National Assembly increased the corporate profit tax rate from 10% to 15% by adopting the Amendments to the Law on Corporate Profit Tax. The following year, the Serbian government amended the same law to cancel the standing tax holiday for new equipment investments. The government still does offer some tax incentives, however, with the goal of continuing to attract foreign investments. It offers a 10-year corporate-profit tax holiday for companies that invest above USD $11.9 million and hire at least 100 new employees. SIEPA, the Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency, administers the program and also works with potential investors who are interested in investment opportunities with state-owned enterprises. The Serbian government also has established a number of economic advisor positions at select foreign missions to help promote foreign investment.

The Serbian government actively works to promote certain economic sectors within its economy, including certain 'high value' sectors such as renewable energy, customer centers, automobiles, logistic centers, and chemicals. Priority sectors, as defined by the country’s National Development Strategy office, include information and communications technology (ICT), electronics, and automobiles. Special incentive packages are offered to investors who wish to invest in these sectors.

Serbia's Currency

The Serbian dinar has been in circulation in some form since the early 1200s, and is made up of 100 units (para), and consists of coins and printed banknotes. Its common nickname is the Glava. Coins are available in values of РСД1, РСД2, РСД5, РСД10, and РСД20 para. Banknotes are printed in denominations of РСД10, РСД20, РСД50, РСД100, РСД200, РСД500, and РСД1000 para.

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