Stable growth forecasts and a strong CEP market – Serbia in focus for imports

In times of fragile supply chains and global crises, it is worth looking for partners in the neighbourhood to source input materials or components for one’s own production. Serbia still offers a lot of potential for Austrian companies. The volume of imports to Austria has grown steadily in recent years.

Serbia’s economy has developed very dynamically in recent years. About two thirds of all Serbian exports are delivered to the EU,[1] of which about 5% go to Austria, which is one of the country’s top 10 trading partners. The largest share is accounted for by electrical machinery and equipment (12.1 %), vegetables and fruit (10.7 %) and iron and steel (9.7 %). Despite manifold global crises, the value of imported goods increased again by almost 25 % from 2021 to 2022, to a total of € 894 million.[2]

An association agreement between Serbia and the EU has been in place since 2013. This has gradually given almost all Serbian goods free access to EU markets, which has once again given trade a strong boost. In addition, the country’s central location in south-eastern Europe makes it an important transit route for B2B imports to central Europe.

Serbian Export of Goods 2012–2022 in Billion US-Dollar.3

Market opportunities for Austrian companies

Austria is already the second largest foreign investor in Serbia and almost 400 Austrian companies have their own branches in the country, mainly in the service sector.[4] Imports from Serbia account for only about 0.4% of total Austrian imports. However, this relatively small share obscures the strong growth of recent years and the good forecast. Since 2005, the value of imported goods has increased by about 1314 %.[5]

Paradoxically, the global crises since the beginning of 2022 (Ukraine war, chip shortages, disrupted supply chains) have created favourable opportunities for market entry. This is because Serbia’s foreign trade is strongly oriented towards supplier industries for the German automotive industry, which has led to great uncertainties in the past 1 ½ years (about 13 % of exports go to Germany). Serbian companies are therefore also striving to diversify their business and open up new trade relations and sales markets.

This opens up many opportunities, especially for companies in the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical equipment and industrial plants. But especially in this sector, deliveries have to be made on time and sometimes at short notice in order to avoid own production losses. When importing from Serbia to Austria, the shipping processes must also be optimally coordinated in order to avoid disruptions in the supply chain.

The logistics hub in South-Eastern Europe

Serbia is not only considered the economic engine of the Western Balkans, it is also the central logistics hub for overland transports from Turkey and South Eastern Europe to Central Europe. Several important pan-European transport corridors run through the country, first and foremost Corridor X, which is a direct road and rail connection from Austria to Greece and Turkey.

The ten transport corridors are given priority by the EU in the development of transport infrastructure. Serbia thus benefits from direct EU participation in infrastructure projects, especially on the routes that are important for Austria’s imports. And since ÖBB Rail Cargo started operating a subsidiary in Serbia in spring 2023, rail freight can now be transported even faster from Austria to Serbia or as transit to South-Eastern Europe.

Strong CEP-Partners for your B2B-Shipment

Increase in CEP-Market Volume in Serbia 2014–2021 in Mio.6

However, there is another reason that makes imports from Serbia interesting for the Austrian economy: the presence of numerous large international CEP service providers in the country with their own logistics hubs. Since 2014, shipping volumes in the Serbian CEP market have increased by 150%.[7] Added to this is the country’s growing importance as a transit country. Our partners DHL, TNT and FedEx have been represented in the country for many years with their own logistics hubs and depots, guaranteeing fast delivery of your shipment within a few days. Depending on the pick-up and delivery location, an express import to Austria can even be delivered within 1-2 days.

Lean processes and full flexibility

Especially for B2B imports, a reliable, fast shipping partner is essential. The cheapest carrier is not always the right choice. And for air freight or hazardous goods transports, a different one may be the best choice than for a courier service. However, in addition to choosing the right carrier, lean operations and flexibility in the event of difficulties are equally crucial to ensure lean operations and optimised shipping processes.

A multi-carrier shipping partner supports you on two levels. You can always find exactly the reliable shipping service you need, including express and courier shipments, pallet shipments and special services. And your personal account manager will take care of you if delays occur or you need a special service.

And best of all: you have everything on one platform:

  • Maximum flexibility thanks to many years of cooperation with various carriers.
  • A personal account manager who supports you in contacting customs or the carrier.
  • Only one invoice/month for all shipments
  • Lower shipping rates
  • A lot of experience also in handling special services
  • Document upload and archive function

[1] WKO Austria, Serbien Länderreport 2022.

[2] WKO Statistik Österreich, ÖSTERREICHS AUSSENHANDEL 1980 – 2022 Wichtigste Handelspartner Vorläufige Ergebnisse.

[3] Graphic according to information from the WTO.

[4] Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, Außenwirtschaftsbericht Serbien 2022.

[5] WKO Statistik Österreich, ÖSTERREICHS AUSSENHANDEL 1980 – 2022 Wichtigste Handelspartner Vorläufige Ergebnisse.

[6] Graphic according to information from Statista and Effigy Consulting.

[7] Statista, Courier, express and parcel (CEP) market volume in Serbia from 2014 to 2021 (


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