Russia drops off the list of Serbia’s top trading partners

Russia drops off the list of Serbia’s top trading partners
By bne IntelliNews June 3, 2024

Russia is no longer among Serbia’s top five largest trade partners, recent data from the Republic Statistical office (RZS) shows.

Previously, Russia occupied a significant positon in Serbia’s import market, primarily due to gas imports. The latest figures reveal a shift in Serbia’s trade relations and raise questions about its international orientation.

In Q1 2024, Germany solidified its position as Serbia’s largest foreign trade partner for both exports and imports. Serbia’s other key export markets include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Italy, China and Hungary. In terms of imports, the most important partners were Germany, China, Italy, Hungary and Turkey.

Foreign trade in goods was the largest with countries with which Serbia has signed free trade agreements. EU member countries accounted for 61.1% of total trade in Q1 2024.

Russia’s declining trade presence in Serbia raises questions about Belgrade’s international politics. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Serbia has pursued a delicate balancing act between its traditional ally Russia and the West. While it has condemned Russia's aggression, it has so far refused to impose EU sanctions.

This latest RZS data suggests that Russia retains leverage in Serbia, not through economic or trade ties, but through diplomatic and political channels. Namely, Russia continues to support Serbia’s positon on Kosovo and leverages historic and religious ties to maintain influence.