Is Serbia still a country of farmers or have things changed and we are becoming a country of software developers?
Two years ago, the export of ICT services exceeded the export of agriculture for the first time. This year, judging by the first three quarters, ICT will overtake agriculture in terms of the created gross added value, which is considered when the national GDP is calculated.
Several days ago, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said that by the end of this year, revenue from IT sector exports would have amounted to 3.8 billion euros. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, on the other hand, said that he expected total revenues of the ICT sector to be 3.6 billion euros and to overtake agriculture in terms of its share of GDP.
However, in the first nine months of this year, the exports of the IT sector amounted to 2.5 billion euros. That is 32 percent more than in the same period last year. The surplus, i.e. the difference between the export and import of these services, was close to 2 billion euros. On the other hand, according to the GDP calculation for the first three quarters, the gross added value of ICT in Serbia was 2.7 billion euros.
In any case, in nine months of this year, ICT has already contributed more to GDP than agriculture, which achieved gross value added (GVA) of 2.6 billion euros.
The ICT services have been experiencing fantastic growth over the last ten years. Export revenue in 2013 amounted to 437 million euros, to reach 2.7 billion euros last year and possibly more than 3.5 billion this year.
As far as agricultural exports are concerned, they have been long lagging behind IT. In ten months of this year, they stood at 756 million euros. However, this figure pertains only to primary agricultural production, while the total export of agriculture and food industry in the first ten months of this year amounted to around 3 billion euros.
Agricultural production and export are far from the country’s full potential, agricultural economist Milan Prostran says, adding that agriculture is experiencing huge problems.
“If we look back, in 1990, we were in a much better agricultural situation than today. Four million hectares were cultivated then and today 3.5 million. This autumn, only 30 percent of arable land was sown, while the use of fertilizers was reduced,” he notes, adding that animal husbandry is in a particularly difficult situation.
“Livestock farming is suffering terribly. It will take five to 10 years to recover if we even decide to do something about its recovery. We export too little food compared to our capacities. Denmark, a country similar to Serbia in size, exports 96 billion euros worth of food, but we can barely manage 5 billion,” he says.
ICT may have overtaken primary agriculture with its GDP share, but it still has a fairly low share.
Milovan Matijević, IT market analyst and owner of Mineko Computers, notes that the ICT’s share in the GDP reaching the agriculture’s share is not such a great success, because agriculture is only the seventh or eighth economic branch in terms of share in the national economy.
(Biznis i Finansije, 12.12.2023)
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