Serbia heading towards a new development model?
Anyone arriving in Belgrade these days can see new buildings everywhere and senses an air of economic boom: more and more cars, ever newer and more luxurious, caught up in ever more frequent traffic jams; crowded restaurants, with a very flexible interpretation of the rules of physical distancing, which on weekends only accept those guests who have booked days in advance; stationary and free taxis on the verge of extinction, compulsively sought out with parallel telephone calls to several company switchboards and hunted down in the streets as if they were white rhinoceroses; shopping centres overflowing with window shoppers as well as international clients, challenging Covid by brandishing credit cards, daringly and without protection.
Official figures confirm this sense of growth: after having managed twelve months earlier to contain the economic shock of the pandemic to -6.3%, (while countries like Italy and France sank to -18%), in the second quarter of 2021, the Serbian economy grew by 13.7%. This is the highest growth rate since the distant fourth quarter of 2001, when the liberalizations and privatizations that followed Milosevic’s fall seemed to set the country on a fast track back to the global economy. This has not been the case, however, and the country has instead endured almost two decades in which hopes of growth were postponed while the impacts of global crises were punctually felt. Could this be the right time, and could Serbia really embark on a phase of sustainable economic expansion?
Serbia as ‘the new economic tiger of the Balkans’?
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