12 June 2020 – After lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, economies are slowly opening up. How long Serbia’s recovery will take depends on how quickly its largest trading partners, members of the European Union, recover, as noted at the webinar organised today by the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia and the European Policy Centre.
You can watch the video from the event here.
The head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia, Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, and the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Čadež, gave introductory speeches at the webinar, agreeing that that recovery efforts of various economies after the pandemic are interconnected.
“The faster and stronger recovery of the EU supported by unprecedented measures, which are currently being discussed by leaders in Brussels, will immediately and automatically support the Serbian economy, especially through trade and investment channels. The combination of reforms on the road to the EU, the continuation of the EU’s financial support to Serbia, as well as the benefits of the EU’s wider economic recovery, largely determine Serbia’s economic perspectives in the future. That is why we need to transform our response to the coronavirus into an opportunity for a stronger partnership between the European Union and Serbia”, said Ambassador Fabrizi.
“Until September and the constitution of the Parliament, you can hardly expect any substantial new measures. Until then, it is important to prepare. Looking at the draft laws in the draft laws of various EU member states, such as Slovenia or Austria, in terms of how they are preparing some decisions not in line with protection of competition, there is no recovery without recovery of the global economy, primarily the European one”, said Čadež.
One of the international financial institutions that has focused its activities on solving the consequences of the economic slowdown is the European Investment Bank. Regional Director for the Western Balkans Dubravka Negre notes that the goal of this institution is to support the health sector, but also that small and medium enterprises will be helped to maintain liquidity.
“There are countries that help, each with their own measures, but international banking institutions are there to help the banking sector, which could provide funds on more favourable terms, primarily for the most vulnerable parts of the economy”, said Negre.
However, such assistance will not be enough for some sectors, because some sectors, which estimates say may not recover for three to five years, such as hotels or tourism, and they will not be able to save all related jobs, says Fiscal Council member Nikola Altiparmakov.
“The focus of states should not be on helping sectors, but on helping workers, so that those workers who will potentially lose their jobs in the tourism sector or in the automobile industry, should be enabled to switch to other industries as easily as possible”, said Altiparmakov.
CEP associate Marko Obradović estimates that the state’s measures were, so far, adequate and that the banking sector maintained its stability, and the progress in the IT sector significantly helped in the implementation of such measures.
“I would say that 5 years ago, such an effective implementation of measures would not have been possible. The situation in which the state or banks open accounts, and that everything is one or two clicks away from you has shown the strength of this sector and is one of the important changes for the future of Serbia”, said Obradović.
The Serbian Chamber of Commerce also announced that the transition to contactless types of business will be a priority in the coming period.
“This is not only an economic, but also a social crisis”, said the executive director of the Foreign Investors Council of Serbia, Aleksandar Ljubić, and he expects that the world will not be the same after the pandemic.
“If we remember, travel has not been the same? after the events of September 11. So, I think that the world will not return to that that existed before this crisis. I think that many things will be changed in terms of communication, business, and everything else “, concluded Ljubić.