Providing that the Serbian IT sector continues to grow as it has been, this year, it could export a billion EUR worth of products and services.
This sector has been growing at an unprecedented rate in the last few years, i.e. over 20% annually. Minister of Innovation, Nenad Popovic said a few days ago that the IT export amounted to 750 million EUR last year, and that this year it was expected to grow by 20% percent. If that happens, the value of IT sector’s export this year could reach 1 billion EUR.
The National Bank of Serbia has released the external trade data for the first 11 months of last year, according to which the total export of telecommunication and ICT services amounted to 800 million EUR with most of this amount attributed to the ICT products and services services, i.e. 676 million EUR. Compared to the same data from 2016, this is a 20.9% growth. More importantly, IT sector has generated an export surplus of 430 million EUR.
According to Minister Popovic, export of IT services exceeded the export of grains. This is, of course, is a result of the drought that severely affected agricultural yield last year, but it is also a good indication of the incredible growth in the IT sector.
Milan Solaja, director of the Vojvodina ICT cluster, points out that the IT sector in Serbia has developed independently and without the help from the state.
“Our IT industry is currently based on renting workforce to foreign companies, as domestic demand is low. This could potentially backfire because, in the event of a global crisis or economic instability when large companies are turning to their resources, Serbia would be left without investments, and foreign companies would take the best employees with them. We have already seen this in practice where big companies withdrew from our market and took all the best employees with them”, Solaja adds..
He points out that the state should provide more support for our IT companies, above all to choose domestically developed solutions and products at tenders and large public procurements. In this way, our IT companies would get references that would enable them to export more.
“In that case, the mentioned 1 billion EUR worth of exports would be more sustainable in the long run,” he said.
One of the indicators of how well this sector is developing is the amount of money invested in IT per capita. In Serbia, this is 62 EUR, in Croatia 200 EUR and in the EU, 800 EUR on average.
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