Fiat’s demise as an opportunity to relaunch Italy in SerbiaBiagio Carrano
The inglorious conclusion of the Fiat-FCA investment project in Serbia is an opportunity to deeply rethink the Italian presence in the Balkan country.
When, amid great enthusiasm, Sergio Marchionne inaugurated the most modern industrial plant ever built by a foreign investor in Kragujevac on 16 April 2012, Serbia had the Gross Domestic Product of USD 43.3 billion (-0.7% compared to the previous year), the GDP per capita of USD 6,000 (-11.3% compared to the previous year), and the official unemployment rate of 25.9%.
When, on 22 June, the FCA-Stellantis workers, who had already survived several rounds of job cuts, blocked the Gazela bridge in Belgrade (something that had not happened for an industrial dispute since the days of the most unscrupulous privatisations), Serbia had the GDP of USD 63 billion (+7.4%), a GDP per capita of over USD 9,000 and unemployment rate of 10%.
This is not the case of the Balkan country turning into a new Lichtenstein, yet over the course of a decade, GDP and per capita income have grown by around 50%, while unemployment has fallen by almost two-thirds – a respectable result and certainly not envisaged at the time of the Fiat factory’s inauguration. Over the same period, Italy remained stagnant (GDP fell from 2,088 to 2,099 billion euros and from 34,744 to 35,449 dollars per capita), while the unemployment figures went up – from 6.9 to 8.3% in March 2022.
The economic gap between the two countries remains abysmal, but it has narrowed considerably over the decade – in 2012, the Italian economy was 48 times larger than the Serbian one, in 2021, it dropped to 33. These are not abstract numbers, as economic relations also impact political relations.
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