Media Corner

Gostovanje u Dnevniku – Kori Udovički 30.12.2022

31. Dec 2022

Gostujući u Dnevniku, Kori Udovički komentarisala je godinu iza nas. Kako je ekonomska i energetska kriza uticala na Srbiju i Evropu, da li je Srbija zaista otpornija nego druge zemlje na ovakve šokove, o aranžmanu sa MMF, situaciji u EPS-u i drugim temama možete poslušati na sledećem linku.

Newsletter: It’s time for SMEs and Happy New Year!

26. Dec 2022

Dear friends, partners, donors,

During 2022, we advocated for sustainable development in Serbia, and particularly for the key role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are needed to play in it. We have also shown that SMEs a have great potential to do so—provided that policymakers and society stop treating them as “second-class” economic citizens.  The past year has brought political uncertainty, increased costs, and declining export demand due to the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, and an increasingly sceptical attitude of business partners towards the international position of Serbia.  In addressing these challenges, SMEs have been showing grit and resilience, as during the pandemic.  And this, despite the additional pressures and risks they suffer in the absence of the rule of law in Serbia. Or maybe it’s exactly because of it—they operate prepared for unpleasant surprises. A piece of good news is that SMEs are showing an increasing interest in greening and digitalization. By promoting those transformations, we plan to make a small contribution not only to the growth of their productivity but also to living in Serbia by European values and standards.  

Our New Year’s resolution is to work on encouraging the development of continuous and stable support for SMEs through cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders. We will also persevere in the effort to make Serbia a better society for all its citizens. We take this opportunity to summarize our work and messages in 2022 before New Year’s wishes and announce the key activities we plan for the year ahead.



Favorable circumstances we identified in the past have enabled Serbia to accelerate economic growth. This was an opportunity to turn growth into sustainable development, and it was missed. In the current crisis, failure to abide by European values in the way we work threatens not only to erode  organizational / institutional capacity, as we can already see happened with EPS, but also a regression in the development accomplished thus far. Servicing EPS’ debts has required a significant narrowing of the fiscal framework (available in Serbian only), as well as a bigger increase in electricity prices than the European energy crisis would have required alone. Despite this, untargeted budget spending has continued: giving to broad groups of citizens including those who do not need help, and permanently worsening the position of those who need it most.  This is dangerous considering the strong inflationary momentum. Also, in the long run, it is difficult to believe in the sustainability of the economic structure that is being built as decisions on sizable public investment are made outside the law, and without the scrutiny and participation of the public, or even the expert community.

As one of the coordinator of the “SDGs 4 All” Platform, we participated in the assessment of the progress Serbia made in 2021. Despite some improvements, Serbia has not made progress in achieving the 2030 Agenda. We paid special attention to the SME sector (more in the next section) and some of the key challenges they face: lack of skills in the labour market (Serbian only) and digital and green transformation. At the local level, we continued to work on strengthening local communities’ capacities for the management of their own development (Serbian only), while in three local self-governments – Pirot, Knjazevac and Sombor (Serbian only) – we actively worked on recognizing development opportunities and preparing local development plans.


The war in Ukraine (started in late February 2022) pushed the already deteriorating economic sentiment in Europe deep into negative territory.  However, there are encouraging indications that the decline is stabilizing, and even recovering somewhat in recent months, especially in the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe. The economic sentiment in Serbia notably improves only in the last, November observation.

Source: Eurostat, consumer and bussines surveys 


We are particularly proud of the exhibition “SME Serbia 2030:SME100 Expo”, held in June 2022, where we gathered and presented 100 leading SMEs (PDF for download). We showed their potential and started bringing together their voices to make them better heard. The conference spawned a number of initiatives (available in Serbian only) to further strengthen the competitiveness and innovation of the SME sector, which CEVES further on took and advocated for in front of decision-makers and the public.

From 2023, we are embarking on an advocacy campaign – IT’S TIME FOR SMEs! We want tangible change in SME positioning within Serbia’s policies, an end to the neglect or even discrimination that they currently suffer. In particular we will focus on: the return of the tax credit on investments (which large companies get and SMEs do not); raising export support to the level common in competing countries in Europe; reorienting the support criteria for attracting FDI from a focus on employment numbers, to the overall effect it has on the domestic economy, especially in the field of knowledge building. The campaign will be launched at the end of January with a panel discussion and display of the June SME100 exhibition, in the premises of the Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. During a series of media activities, the campaign will include a panel discussion in the Kopaonik Business Forum on March 7 – where we will also present our new SME competitiveness and innovation index*, and the second conference “SME Serbia 2030: SME100: Expo 2023” in September.

*With the support of USAID, through the five-year project “Big Small Economy” implemented by ACDI/VOCA , which CEVES is a partner of since 2022.



Instead of the (once key) question – when will Serbia enter the EU, the key question is becoming – will Europe enter Serbia, and when? These days the Serbian leadership and public are once again distracted by the complex situation in Kosovo, which threatens to spiral out of control, and erode Serbia’s image of stability. Stability, and its image, are a key conditions of the country’s further economic recovery. The second condition is the perception of a clear European perspective.  This too is being seriously eroded by both the Kosovo problem and by Serbia’s lack of alignment with the key issue in the EU’s foreign policy – ​​the attitude towards Russia. The third condition is the establishment of the rule of law and respect for European values ​​in the management of public affairs. Laws are generally good, but they are not applied, or do not apply equally to everyone. In this context, the adoption of the currently proposed Law on the Police, which in fact legalizes the violation of basic human rights, would be the biggest setback in the previous two decades. By contrast, living in legal certainty, and policy development with the participation interested parties, would radically improve the business environment and the quality of public investments, therefore strengthening Serbia’s businesses while facing external challenges. And that is not all. “Europe in Serbia”, a condition that is entirely in our hads, would strengthen Serbia’s European perspective and trust.


We are entering the new year with announcements of the ownership transformation of public companies (into joint-stock companies), and particularly of the state-owned electric power company EPS i Norwegian advisors also participate will advise. The real “news” however these days has been that “EPS exports electricity again”.  In fact, the Serbian power system will not return to full production capacity for at least another year, while public finances will have been saddled with repaying the price of last year’s disaster for much longer. The reorganization of public enterprises cannot transform them from political to well-managed systems until the establishment of the rule of law transforms paper competences into real ones. Meanwhile, some progress could be made by adopting consistent energy and climate strategies that would answer the question of how will Serbia meet the emission reduction commitments it has taken before the world. And what is the plan for when in 20-30 years there is no more coal?  In any case, any real change will have to be preceded by serious preparations of a gradual reduction in the massive excess employment related to all public utilities.  Most important and demanding is the preparation of alternative sources of employment, as it takes resources and time. We hope that the Norwegian advisors will see this as well.

In the coming year, we will make significant efforts to encourage SMEs and help them move on with greening their business and their communities. We will argue in a series of brochures and workshops, that making business green is not only a trend or a threat imposed by the European Union, but also a moral obligation and a global process that shape future demand and brings opportunities for improving productivity and profitability of the business.



Great thanks to our partners from the project “SDGs 4 All”, as well as GIZ, SDC, World Bank, National Convention on the European Union, USAID, embassies of Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia, and other donors and partners who motivate us to jointly seek solutions to the challenges of a sustainable future for the Serbian economy. We look forward to further cooperation!


Kori Udovički: In the process of EPS reform, the biggest problem has always been political interference

15. Dec 2022

Chief Economist of Cevesa Kori Udovički stated that in the process of reforming the Electric Power Industry of Serbia, the biggest problem has always been political interference.

“It is a much bigger problem than simple corruption.” If you manage the system badly as we have just seen. The price of that overwork, the price of not maintaining something properly is ultimately higher than what someone has installed somewhere,” said Udovicki on Insider television.

Udovicki said that because of this, it is necessary to ask the question of where the policy is leading EPS because, as she stated, there is a threat of a coal shortage.

“We will run out of coal in 20-30 years.” In energy, that period is tomorrow, and we are still talking about it as if it is something that is yet to come,” she added.

Regarding the Serbian government’s move to hire a company from Norway to propose a reform model, Udovicki says that the company can act as an advisor, but that the state will ultimately implement the reforms.

“When it was necessary to stabilize coal production in Kolubara, a director for the Kolubara Mining Basin was found who knows how to organize production. The problem is that he is a politician from another story. And what do we do now? “Are we going to let the Norwegians throw politics out of the EPS,” asked Udovički

You can watch the entire interview at the following link.

A focus group was held in Sombor as part of the support for the development of the Mid-Term City Development Plan

08. Apr 2022

The Center for Advanced Economic Studies CEVES, together with the Timok Youth Center, held a focus group with representatives of Sombor in the premises of the Sombor Educational Center in Sombor, on April 7, 2022, within the framework of the Economic Pillar of the “Sustainable Development for All” Platform. Among those gathered were representatives of the city administration, companies, the Chamber of Commerce and public utility companies. The event was organized with the aim of gathering information and participants’ views on topics that will be significant for the preparation of the Mid-Term City Development Plan.

During the event, participants shared their opinion based on their experience and expertise on the following topics: infrastructure quality, labor supply, the state of agriculture and tourism and the main obstacles to their further development, the availability of financial instruments for companies, as well as the impact of current events in Ukraine and covid crisis on business. Among the main conclusions of the focus group is the need to improve the quality of infrastructure, as well as the need for larger investments in order to stimulate and further improve the domestic economy. This is the first of several events that CEVES will be conducting in Sombor with the aim of formulating recommendations for the city administration for the preparation of the Mid-Term Development Plan.

(SR) CEVES učestvovao na javnoj debati: Program ekonomskih reformi i ostvarivanje COR 5 – rodna ravnopravnost

08. Apr 2022

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CEVES and TOC – strengthening the perspective of local sustainable development

01. Mar 2022

CEVES and TOC – strengthening the perspective of local sustainable development

Within the “Sustainable Development for All” Platform, CEVES and TOC held a meeting in the city administration of Pirot on February 28, 2022 with representatives of the city and the Regional Development Agency South (RRA South), and presented the document “Findings and recommendations for the localization of the economic dimension of sustainable development in the Mid-Term Development Plan of the City of Pirot”. Among those present at the meeting were Kori Udovicki, president of CEVES, Goran Radisavljević, director of TOC, Miloš Colić, deputy mayor of Pirot, Marija Đošić, head of the office for local economic development and Dragana Stojanović, director of RRA South.

Ten-month research, in cooperation with city representatives, showed that the key goals of local economic development are: 1) positioning Pirot as a center and driver of economic development; 2) diversification of the economy and development of the private, especially SME sector and 3) utilization of natural wealth for the development of tourism, agriculture and green energy while improving the quality of the environment. The presentation of the analysis on the integration of the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda into the Mid-Term Development Plan of the city of Pirot was followed by a discussion on past and future plans, as well as the challenges that the city of Pirot faces on its way to achieving economic development and the 2030 Agenda. The discussion generated ideas for initiatives on how the development can be improved, some of which are the need to strengthen the system of inter-municipal cooperation, as well as the possible improvement of the regulation of cooperatives in order to facilitate cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises based on the Italian and other models. You can view the presentation at the following link

You can see more about the meeting at the link.



(SR) Kori Udovički, gostovanje u emisiji “Marker” 20. januar 2022.

24. Jan 2022

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The Economics of the Environmental Protests in Serbia Kori Udovički

24. Dec 2021
Text was published in journal NIN on 16.12.2021


Founder and head of the Belgrade think-tank Center for Advanced Economic studies, Kori Udovički, gave an interview for the Serbian journal “NIN”.  She pointed out that after a decade of destruction and two decades of painstaking transformation, the Serbian economy has finally matured enough, and is free enough of the ballast of the past, to be able to move forward quickly. However, this requires a road with a clear direction and many hands to build it. The lack of trust would in and of itself frustrate the fulfillment of these two conditions, and an even bigger problem is that the institutions really do not deserve it. 

You can read full text on the following link.

Facts and Fiction about Serbia’s Economic Growth, The Missing Link

22. Dec 2021

Text by Kori Udovički, published in NIN on 18/11/2021 (translated from Serbian) 

It has become completely clear today that development priorities are just not a political priority.  Economic growth is not the same as development. There are rich countries with poor peoples


Serbia shows no actual progress in this year’s European Commission’s Progress Report on its readiness for EU membership, just as it didn’t in previous years. The report clearly indicates what has, and what has not been done. The authorities declared it “the best report in the last few years” because the text has a slightly more positive tone overall and in its assessments in the umbrella observations. The term “state capture”, which was present last year (for the first time), does not appear again. Efforts are evident to “give points” to Serbia for progress such as, for example, that the number of laws passed by urgent procedure has declined, although the speed of the procedure in a parliament with no opposition is irrelevant. Maybe Europe was worried that it would push Serbia too far away from itself. Or maybe someone judged that, together the facts that the proposed constitutional changes on the judiciary are indeed an improvement and that Serbia is at least confronting one of its organized crime clans, prevail over the fact that this confrontation has clearly revealed how inseparable crime is from government structures and that the latter will not at all be brought to account. Finally, the European portal Politico states advances the thesis that the report was embellished at the last moment by Commissioner Varhelji, close to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The answer is, most likely, “a little bit of everything”.


The economy is growing

There is also little doubt that Serbia’s very solid economic performance, for a second time in a row, contributed to the positive tone of the Report. Serbia’s growth was one of the highest in Europe, and this enabled Serbia to increase budget spending without a significant increase in public debt, now possibly even declining again in percent of GDP. Certainly, a disregard for the health situation “helped” economic growth (at the cost of human lives)  Serbia is, along with Bulgaria, the “leader” in excess mortality during the pandemic. It was also helped by a strong fiscal stimulus for which, it is important to recognize, the space was created with the fiscal consolidation a few years ago. However, the extent of the resilience shown by the Serbian economy in the pandemic indicates that something more has been at play. The question is – what could it be? The report itself points to a large number of institutional weaknesses that have not been corrected over the years. In fact, we as citizens see institutions being devastated. Does this mean that a “favorable business environment”, which of course includes the quality of institutions and the rule of law, is not important for economic growth? Or that the business environment has somehow improved?

The answer is that the Serbian economy is growing despite the weakening of institutions, due to a favorable set of structural, even historical, circumstances. In fact, Serbia is missing a unique opportunity to go beyond a temporary acceleration of growth, and start developing rapidly, closing the socio-economic gap with countries of the European Union.  After almost two decades of slow and painful economic transformation, Serbia entered the pandemic with a healthy base of dynamic economic entities. That transformation, through the cumulative reforms that accompanied it, the recent stagnation of wages, and, simply just the passage of time, helped Serbia become more competitive at a time when the global economic scene is restructuring. The fiscal consolidation and then-initiated public administration reforms opened the opportunity for increased and better-targeted public investment necessary to support development. That fiscal space is now being wasted, and current industrial policies, as well as the way in which they are implemented, reduce the level and quality of investments, especially those that can contribute the most to the well-being of citizens. Let’s look at these in turn.

There is no doubt that economic growth in Serbia is currently being driven mainly by foreign direct investment (FDI). This is, as the Report emphasizes, good for macroeconomic stability. It is also good that Serbia attracts part of this FDI because of the aforementioned restructuring of global value chains.  Capital is returning from Asia to Europe, and is increasingly moving from Germany as well. As China and the CEE have moved up the ladder of development in the past two decades, Serbia can now “win over” the more labor-intensive projects. These are investments in manufacturing which are moved by an expectations of increasing production capacity and exports. They, hence, bring economic growth not only while the investment lasts but, as a rule, after it as well.


Structures are being built  but– what kind?

The problem is that a large part of the significant increase in FDI recorded by our statistics does not concern the opening of factories, which is what we usually have in mind by FDI. The increase in average annual FDI into manufacturing (€ 200 million) is only a small part of the total increase in FDI (€ 1.7 billion) in the past five years. The lion’s share of that significant increase (1.1 billion euros) actually refers to flows into „land transport and piplines“ or into the real estate and construction sectors sectors. In the first case, the figures clearly correspond to the value of the gas pipeline, actually a public infrastructure project that is treated as FDI because it is run by a (publicly owned) company. In the second case, the flows are almost certainly into development of real estate, mostly in Belgrade. In both cases, of course, these are investments whose contribution to the country’s production capacity is far less “assured”. The rest of the increase in FDI flows refers to the Bor mine and steel and copper production, which will raise productive capacity but with questionable environmental containment efforts.

Also the structure of investments in the manufacturing industry itself is not optimal. Methods of attracting them still give a significant advantage to projects with a large number of low-skilled employees (in the thousands), although unemployment is no longer the only, and perhaps not even the main, development priority. The problem is really not in that such projects rely on lower paid labor but that they offer this labor and entrepreneurs in their environment fewer development prospects. These are huge systems in which simple products are mass-produced. Making such products do not offer workers much learning opportunities, and many also do not offer opportunities for adding complexity later.  Finally, they do not offer Serbia an opportunity to supply much. Another problem is that manufacturing investment attraction is focused on only two sources: Germany and China. While with Germany a positive feedback loop has been created based on good mutual experiences, largely thanks to consistent German official assistance, from China we are attracting polluters that China wants to get rid of, and into places such as Zrenjanin where it was certainly possible to invest in many better things.

Actually the experience with Germany, from where we are increasingly attracting higher-quality investments, shows how opportunities opened with the consistent investment in people, connections, reputation and cooperation. This is how institutions are built under normal conditions. The problem in our case is that this is effort is not carried out only, nor even mainly, by institutions, but by the completely centralized parallel structure built around the office of the President. Thus, the experience cannot spread and expand to a larger number of sources, nor to a larger number of smaller and finer projects. The persistent focus on large projects and on only two countries of origin have the same explanation – the limited capacity of one center from which everything is run.

The domestic economy – a neglected potential


It would be desirable, and this is now realistically possible, for a much larger part of the growth to be driven by the domestic private economy itself – through its own investments. After almost three decades of painstaking development, this economy has matured. The ease with which it overcame the state of emergency, and even the shocks that followed, indicates that it has significant reserves. Its maturation took place in parallel with the transformation, to a large extent extinction, of the “traditional” economy inherited from socialism. The transforming traditional economy fed the new domestic economy with resources, but also burdened it with its poor performance, non-payment of bills and the burden of taxes used to subsidize it.

The process of building a new domestic and foreign-owned economy and the parallel process of transforming the traditional socialist economy can be illustrated by a particularly vivid example of the machinery and electrical equipment sector, and also through the export of goods. The first chart shows revenues by company ownership in the machinery and electrical equipment sector. Revenues of newly established domestically owned companies (marked in blue) increased by around 25 billion dinars from 2006 to 2015, revenues of brand new (greenfield) FDI (green) increased twice as much, while revenues of companies that were once was state-owned (and in 2015 or other state-owned, marked in yellow, or already privatized, brown) decreased by about 40 billion.

Machinery and electrical equipment sector: revenues, 2006-2015

RSD 2015

Similarly, the dynamism of the new domestic economy can be seen in the structure of Serbian merchandise exports by ownership of exporters (colors are somewhat different compared to the previous chart). The new domestic economy is fully keeping pace with the rapid growth of exports of privatized companies (excluding Fiat and Zelezara) suffering a decline only in 2009. This is impressive, because most privatized companies are in the hands of foreign owners with much better access to capital and export markets than ours.

Serbia’s merchandise exports ownership of exporter company, 2005-2015 in mill. EUR

(Fiat and Steelmill Smederevo are not included in the calculations)

Today, when the transformation of the traditional economy and fiscal consolidation are over, when it is evident that SMEs have reserves, and when finally the government is spending significant amounts- we should see an increase in domestic company investment and not only foreign ones. While precise data are not available, available data suggests this is not the case.


A very unequal playing ground


The performance of the domestic economy continues to be burdened – by the weak economic environment. In this regard, the EC Report could be criticized for the assessment that in the observed period (June 2020-June 2021) the economic environment improved slightly. That was true a few years ago, but now it would mean that very few regulatory changes and a bit of procedure digitalization took precedence over the increasingly visible absence of the rule of law (especially confirmed through public discourse on organized crime). We cannot measure this effect, but there is no doubt that clientelist management of public enterprises, corruption and the absence of the rule of law play a significant role in “cooling” domestic investment passions.

The domestic economy does not receive the same attention, nor funds, dedicated to FDIs. As the Report notes, SMEs face an “unequal playing field because they do not have direct access to the government as do large companies and foreign investors”. (By European standards, just about the entire domestic economy is SMEs). While insider large companies and FDIs can speed up administrative decisions with this direct access, the implication is that small ones will therefore have to wait even longer. An additional problem is that FDI is attracted with incentives that are not adapted to the characteristics (mainly dimensions) of domestic companies that therefore generally have no access to it, while funds dedicated to SMEs are severalfold smaller, and fragmented.  Finally, the domestic economy is not consulted in the decision-making about which FDI to incentivize, and where. While the spending of an FDI will generally give an impetus to local economic activity and employment, it can, if not carefully planned, endanger those (fewer) local SMEs with more a substantial growth potential. This will happen primarily through competition for staff and other resources. What is there to be gained by encouraging foreign and not domestic investors in the production of chocolate or furniture?

The way in which the government manages the spending of public funds, especially investments, does not help increase private investments and growth, and more importantly – the effect they can have in the future. Let’s start with the example of the subsidies to the economy during the pandemic crisis. The space created by fiscal consolidation enabled strong spending, and this provided an impetus to growth. However, as has been pointed out many times in public (and recognized in the Report), it was not targeted at the most vulnerable households and businesses. Had it been, it would have produced higher economic growth and higher investments, as  the same help to those more in need – be it poor citizens or affected companies — makes a much bigger difference in their behavior than helping those doing well anyway.

Shooting from the hip

It has never been more important to think through priorities for the direction of public funds, especially medium-term national investments, nor has the absence of such analysis been less justified. From 2017 until today, investments in transport and energy infrastructure have significantly increased and will continue to increase – without an expert, not to mention participatory, process to answer the questions —  what types, how much, in what locations? Do we really need whole new highways to meet the development needs of some parts of Serbia, or would it have been better to build only a third lane (for the time being) and invest the savings in other needs? Highways and railways will require maintenance in the future – where from will these resources come if they happen not to result in a commensurate increase in production capacity? And how will they result in a commensurate increase in productive capacity if the small companies that should thrive due to their proximity are presently reduced to (in vain) roaming backstage inquiring if there will be get a connector from their place to the highway?

Not only has this analysis not been done, but there is no document, not even a note, which all potential investors could consult, to learn about the plans that before the last elections were called the “Serbia 2025 Investment Plan”, and that are etched, apparently, solely in the President of the Republic’s mind.  The EC has been not only waiting, but actually endeavoring to help, the implementation of its year-after-year repeated recommendation that Serbia “establish a single, comprehensive and transparent system for planning and managing capital investments.” The question of investment prioritization was posed to the Prime Minister at the Plenary Session of the National Convention for the EU. She replied, referring to the environmental sector, that “there is no priority because it is about extinguishing fires.” Such an explanation could have been acceptable at the beginning of the 2000s, and even at the beginning of Vučić’s rule, as a planning system had not been built in the meantime. Today, however, it is quite clear that development priorities are simply not a political priority. Economic growth is not the same as development. There are also rich countries with poor people.

The European Commission’s report does as much as it can– it even recognizes that the weakness of institutions threatens the sustainability of economic growth. But the process of joining the European Union is not adapted to situations in which someone is not interested in real progress. The fact that Serbia is missing a historic chance for development is, above all, a question and a task for us – the entrepreneurs and citizens of Serbia.


By Kori Udovički


The text is a translation of an Op-Ed published in NINu 18/11/2021; it includes a correction with regard to the composition of FDI.  


(SR) Agenda 2030 u Srbiji – trenutno puka formalnost, potencijalno vredan alat za upravljanje razvojem

15. Dec 2021

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(SR) Kori Udovički – Konferencija:Nova ekonomska agenda za Srbiju 29.10.2021

01. Nov 2021

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(SR) Kori Udovički – Javno čitanje izveštaja Evropske komisije o Srbiji 2021

28. Oct 2021

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(SR) Kori Udovički u emisiji “Pregled dana” 8. oktobra 2021.

12. Oct 2021

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(SR) Nemanja Šormaz o subvencijama i stranim dirketnim investicijama, gostovanje na jutarnjem programu televizije Nova s

27. May 2021

Nemanja Šormaz, direktor Centra za visoke ekonomske studije (CEVES) gostovao je u jutarnjem programu televize Nova s. Šormaz je prilikom gostovanja, pre svega govorio o odnosu subvencija koje se dodeljuju domaćim i stranim preduzećima, koji u ovom trenutku stoji na nivou tri na prema jedan u korist stranih firmi. Reči je bilo i o kvalitetu samih SDI kao i o neiskorišćenosti evropskih IPARD fondova, a detaljnije o svemu možete videti na sledećem linku. 

(SR) Kori Udovički za Novi Magazin: Vučićeve prečice su razvojne kočnice

05. May 2021

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The Price of a Cynical Electoral Calculation

04. Aug 2020

Thisi is a slightly edited version of the article published in NIN magazine on July 30th, 2020.

Author: dr Kori Udovički

At a time when officially hundreds, and possibly many more, people are dying from covid in Serbia, it is important to be quite clear that this was not inevitable. It is not true that in this crisis one has to choose between the health of citizens and the economy. On the contrary– health management has become one of the most important economic policy tools – if the government does not keep the epidemic under control, its explosive spread takes control of everything, no matter how much the government resorts to repression. People in Serbia are dying today because of a cynical electoral calculation, but also because Aleksandar Vučić– despite holding a tight grip over his party and the (repressive) state apparatus– is not able to manage the fine web of measures and incentives needed to take the Serbian economy to safety.  Had he been able to, he could have won the election with greater political gain and benefit for the economy, without the unnecessary loss of life.

The first and second waves

Every day of this second wave of the pandemic is costing the Serbian economy over a million and a half euros in earnings—a rough and conservative estimate– compared with what could realistically have been expected after the state of emergency. It was to be expected that, at least for a year from now, businesses would operate under the twin effect of the restrictions’ direct limitations, as well as of the contraction in demand caused only partly by the restrictions themselves, but more so by the broader effects of the crisis in Serbia and internationally. The estimate of the additional cost includes the effect of the current deterioration in both these factors. Not included are the increased costs of health treatment (which will ultimately also be paid by businesses) and the chain effects of increased uncertainty and of failures of the most affected businesses.

In order to understand this wave, as well as how the epidemic can be better managed, it is useful to look at what can be learned from the state of emergency—although it is quite safe to assume this will not be exactly repeated.  It should not repeat because everybody – businesses, citizens, and the government—have in good measure become adapted to the inevitable new circumstances.

As with the first wave, this one is most strongly affecting micro, small, and medium sized limited liability companies and sole-proprietors (SMEs) – those that make the heart of the domestic economy.

The chain of causality during the state of emergency started with the closure of those activities that require direct contact or the gathering of large numbers of people (hotels, restaurants, personal care, open and enclosed market places). CEVES’ research shows that every fifth limited liability company (LLC) mainly micro, and every third sole-proprietor (with a total of some 230,000 formally employed) were not able to operate at all. In addition to businesses closed outright by the measures, also blocked were workers older than 65 and those that were not able to organize transport for their employees. However, for the majority of businesses, the first wave was centered around the need to adapt to safer working conditions. Establishing physical distance, working in staggered shifts, the use of PPE and disinfectants, shifting to digital/remote work in whatever capacity possible- all of that entailed costs that continue to burden businesses.

For the two thirds of SMEs that could not (partially or fully) shift to remote work, shortened work hours were highly limiting. Retail outlets were hit particularly hard, not only by the shortened work hours, but the many days of forced holiday.  Difficulties with, and the increased costs of, procurement and transportation of inputs should be added –problems which continue to be felt, especially in the import and export of goods.

Once operations were adjusted, the main cause of SMEs’ loss of income was the fall in demand. During the state of emergency, 40% of SMEs lost over 50% in profits; only every fourth LLC and every fifth entrepreneur had profits in line with pre-epidemic expectations. As soon as the state of emergency was ended, some businesses had even higher demand than usual (e.g. hair salons), while others dealt with continued shortfalls. Some sectors, especially those related with tourism, faced an especially drastic decline- in May, Serbia had 87.6% less tourists than at the same time last year. It was realistic to expect a continued shortfall in demand in other exposed sectors as well, considering that the public needed to be continually reminded of safety measures.  Some niches (eg. international congress tourism) would clearly not find solutions for the medium-term on their own. Instead, in June and July, the neglect of strict safety measures and a “we beat corona” attitude took hospitality and other similar businesses to a surprisingly high level.

Their decline is now that much more severe, more so due to the fall in demand and caution by citizens than restrictions. Coming out of the state of emergency, SMEs were optimistic. Covid caught them in the first rush of economic growth since the last crisis. According to CEVES’ research, they had in the meantime significantly increased exports and their contribution to the Serbian economy. They had even built up reserves– during the state of emergency, only 1% of SMEs let go of employees.

Elan and reserves

The first set of economic measures served to replenish part of the reserves that SMEs spent during the state of emergency. As such it was justified and its lateness (in contrast to my previously stated expectations) was less important. About two thirds of businesses resorted to deferring tax debts (the moratorium on loans was used by much fewer of them, because few SMEs borrow at all). Additionally, two thirds of businesses stated that they relied on their own reserves and the help of family and friends in order to aide their financial problems during the state of emergency, while 90% took (or were simply given) the minimum wage subsidy. Still, surveys showed only 5-10% of them reported that the government measures influenced their decision to (not) lay-off employees. About one fourth said they didn’t even have issues with making payments.

The greatest price of the new wave lies in the collapse of that optimism and the aimless depletion of those reserves. It takes the courage or ambition of many entrepreneurs to secure sustainable economic growth– and it requires that they believe it makes sense to risk their assets and savings. The crisis is not an opportunity as such, but crisis or not, the chances and ability of every entrepreneur to uncover solutions, to invest their reserves in the small opportunities they see – must be protected. This is possible only with consistent, predictable, and, if possible, agreed upon economic policies. In their absence, discouragement and costly directionless searching take over.  Although the delay of the first set of measures did not in itself create a problem, it is a reflection of a deep problem that is yet to take its toll.  First of all, let’s clear up the myth that the first set of measures had to be so broadly targeted and expensive due to the speed and limited administrative capacity of the Serbian state. All the countries that Serbia compares itself with adopted the first set of measures in the third or fourth week of March. Serbia announced a set on March 31st, and it adopted it only on April 10th.  Additionally, all the countries in the region, and many others outside it, had much more targeted sets of measures.

One instead of all

The question is why was the set of measures late? I have no doubt that it waited on the “de facto” Minister of Finance to stop doing the job of the “de facto” Minister of Health. The public is very familiar with the effort Aleksandar Vučić personally put in to control the health aspects of the epidemic during the first month of the crisis: from selecting the professional advice to rely on, through the procurement of respirators while playing geostrategic policy, to the role of a spokesman for the Crisis Task Force. In the meantime, the economy and economic line ministries were preparing proposals that were waiting for a response. The first economic messages he sent into the ether were related to maintaining salaries in the public sector, supplementing pensions, and giving raises to health workers. Most likely, he was only able to pay attention to the economy when new health policies were following advice from the Chinese physicians (at the beginning of the last week of March). Meanwhile, only the National Bank appears to have acted autonomously.

The biggest problem in all of this is not the tardiness of important decisions (e.g. currently—forming the new Government). Even the disenfranchisement of ministry leaderships is not an insurmountable problem – Vučić can replace more than half the ministers (the policy of mass testing adopted near the end of March was in fact correct). The problem is that the occasional benefit from such engagement cannot even remotely compensate for the damage done by the unpredictability and caprice of such decision-making at the highest level. It disempowers and paralyzes entire ministry realms, from top to bottom. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that it is accompanied by a subtle, yet effective, message that nothing is to be expected from the initiative of the small individual, within the government and outside it. There is no hint even of a message that joint action, mutual help, but also a free (and fair) competition of many small and big players in society can create something valuable for the whole society.

When we look at how other countries adopt measures, it is obvious that they work in parallel tracks. Measures spring up in waves: first one minister, then another is announcing a step, there is a public dialogue – some of it nationwide, some between ministries and their constituencies. Businesses are investing in adapting to the new situation by connecting their interests and the health of citizens in ways that only they could have thought of – digitalization, better ventilation, new procedures that protect both employees and clients. The governments, with detailed sanitary analyses and instructions, support and follow the initiatives.

Do not get me wrong: business people in Serbia are fighting hard, and individuals and institutions everywhere, even within the government, are working as hard as they can to adjust their activities and make them as useful as possible in this moment. During the crisis, the Chamber of Commerce stood out with its engagement and agility. But that is not the same as mobilizing entire ministry realms into coordinated action top-down and bottom-up. The first set of measures should have been understood as buying time – to prepare the economy and the state for the “new normal”.

A chip off the old block

The set of measures did buy time, but — what for? The clarification did not follow. Immediately after coming out of the state of emergency, many businessmen probably had unrealistic expectations. Less than five percent thought they would need any debt forgiveness to survive! Only later in June did the realization begin to set in that serious problems await for the medium term. Like anywhere, the business sector needed political leadership: the “de facto” prime minister initiating and supporting a nation-, or at least government-, wide dialogue about what this “new normal” will look like- how much will it cost, what expectations could no longer be realistic? Hardly anyone reading the international press could have doubted that the hospitality sector, and especially hotels focused on international tourism, would remain under unbearable pressure. What is the country’s policy for them five months after the outbreak of the crisis?

In this unprecedented crisis, no one has the crystal ball (or time) to work out ambitious policies and strategies. But it is possible and necessary to clearly weigh what portion of the country’s resources will be allocated to civic solidarity, and what to investments that we believe can pull everyone ahead? What principles do we stand for as a nation? One must, for example, choose between the following two: “unless something much worse than expected happens, we will not allow the country to be left without these, or such and such, hotels” or “we do not believe that even in a crisis like this, hotels should be helped. Some will fail, some who still have the resources will buy them.” With or without a national dialogue – which of the two is Vučić’s position? Instead of answering these questions, more than two months after the adoption of the first set of economic measures, the announcement of the second begins, and it is just a chip off the old set’s block.

(SR) Danon: efekti jednokratne novčane pomoći od 100 evra verovatno neće dostići pun potencijal

07. May 2020

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(SR) Udovički: Kasno je za minimalac u maju, Nova Ekonomija

04. May 2020

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(SR) Komentar na usvojene i najavljene ekonomske mere za ublažavanje posledica Kovid-krize

10. Apr 2020

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An Imperative for Support Measures – Abundant Liquidity to Accompany Payment Discipline

29. Mar 2020

By Kori Udovički, orig. 29/03/2020, rev. 01/04/2020

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The pandemic struck us just at the very moment when the payment discipline in Serbia begun significantly to improve. The measures to strengthen financial discipline in the private sector adopted in 2016 and the reduction in government arrears in the context of the fiscal consolidation, significantly reduced the chains of illiquidity in the system. Of course, no one could expect the pandemic, and it will inevitably cost us.  But if the payment discipline is now loosened, the pandemic will cost us much more. Clearly, those who cannot access liquidity will simply not be able to pay. It is the Government’s responsibility to make sure there are as few of those as possible.  In this, it must start from itself.

If the Government wants to mitigate the economic downturn during a pandemic and ensure its rapid recovery once the pandemic is over – a key task is to accompany intervention measures with safeguarding payment discipline. I start by assuming that it is clear to the reader how important this discipline is to economic growth. In short: non-payment creates a chain of illiquidity, which then creates problems for everybody. The first debtor affects his partners, suppliers, and employees, who in turn pull those, now many, into the third line of iterations, and so on. In this way, illiquidity snowballs through the system, further affecting everyone – even those whose business otherwise would not have been affected by pandemic at all. Its worse aspect is that it tends to spread distrust, discouraging new business ventures, and this carries over into the post-crisis period. Simply, economic activity is stifled over the longer term.

Payment discipline is actually one of the pillars of financial discipline. We understand financial discipline as “you incur only those costs that you can afford to pay”. We mostly interpret this as having to plan one’s budget carefully – which is, certainly, its first pillar. However, the discipline of realistic planning does not make sense unless it is accompanied by payment discipline. Once a cost has been incurred –it must be paid for. Even if it requires borrowing to pay. Not even the best plans can predict everything. Liquidity needs to be available/accessible if prompt payment is to always be possible. So, access to liquidity can be considered the third pillar of financial discipline. These three pillars reinforce one another. We will really take care to plan realistically only if we know with certainty that we will have to pay. Only if we plan realistically, will we be creditworthy when we need to access liquidity when unexpected problems do happen. And, finally, only if we have access to liquidity, will we be able to act upon that creditworthiness, that is–to borrow and to pay.

Financial discipline is a matter of political will and upgrading of the financial management system. In the distant past, we planned unrealistically and borrowed without much consideration. In the end, we paid for it through inflation. In the 1990s we had both hyperinflation and non-payment. Since the 2000s, we have started to plan somewhat more realistically, but not sufficiently. Therefore, we continued to fall back on non-payment, the so-called arrears. The unpaid expenditures from this year burden next year’s budget and hence leave less space for next year’s spending. However, this means that instead of the financial market, the difference is financed by businesses and citizens. The key at this point is to understand how harmful is the non-payment culture, and to tackle it. The Government needs to dare to look for liquidity in the market to cover the difference between expenditures and revenues, even unexpected ones. For financial discipline to be maintained despite more flexible borrowing in the market, Serbia needs to use more decisively and honestly its financial management instruments: primarily budget planning and oversight, which have been built over the past two decades.

Controlling the level of spending by limiting payments, in a time when the state needs to stimulate economic activity by increasing the deficit, is like stepping on the gas of a car while pulling the parking brake. It is this odd combination of actions that explains why in 2010-13 large fiscal deficits did not contribute more to growth. By the same token, a combination only in opposite directions explains how the recent sharp fiscal consolidation of 2015-2017 was not accompanied by such a larger contraction in economic growth: the tightening of the fiscal belt was accompanied by a reduction in public sector arrears giving the economy a substantial liquidity relief. It would be inexcusable if we fall into using the same wrong combination of instruments again. We need a true fiscal stimulus: a fiscal deficit, ie. overall public spending, paid for by adequate liquidity.

The price of the fiscal package, as well as its allocation, will be less important than the need that it be accompanied by a clear intention to maintain a sound financial discipline and the measures to do so. This should by no means be taken as a call to abandon reasonable budget planning. The state must weigh a very significant, but feasible package of support to the economy and citizens. In this greatly uncertain context, it is likely to err, but it should err on the side of looseness rather than tightness. We are witnessing “the mother” of unimaginable, unexpected events. Responsible planning, the first pillar of financial discipline will be observed if the plans are as realistic as possible, and then are revised as frequently as needed. The government, businesses, and citizens should certainly expect to produce much less this year, and therefore to be able to consume much less.

If paid in liquidity, excessive spending will be punished by inflation, which then needs to be quickly corrected.  However, in its early stages of acceleration inflation would get as much production rescued as possible. Some increase in inflation should be expected and allowed, (this is a supply contraction crisis).  However, if inflation starts accelerating, beyond 5-7%, then it could and should be arrested with corrective measures—tightening of spending, not by running arrears.   Loosening of financial discipline overall, would, of course, mean repeating the biggest mistake of the past. If accompanied by excessive liquidity, it would lead to hyper-inflation. If, as is more likely, accompanied by insufficient liquidity and non-payment it would drag us into a “swamp” of unfulfilled obligations, general illiquidity and insolvency as well as distrust, putting a break on the eventual recovery for the fourth time in three decades. This, clearly, would depress economic activity for a long time to come.

Focus on Payment Discipline

In order to support payment discipline throughout the system, the government must show commitment, set an example, and pay off all its outstanding obligations.  These are still substantial. Until recently, the state was the key ingredient in the lack of payment discipline in Serbia. On the one hand, as by far the largest single buyer in the market (procurement of goods and services by the public sector amounts to about 20% of GDP), its non-payments were, and may still be, the first and the biggest link in chains of non-payment. On the other hand, it is the Government that, through its example and actions, sets the culture of (non) payment. It sets the culture by taking on (un)realistic obligations and then (not)paying them, as well as systematically enforcing discipline in the private sector. This applies to both obligations that the Government assumes itself, and to those it obliges others to enter. Say, for example, that the Government requires the corporate sector not to lay off employees.  As we all know that many companies will not be able to pay them, if the Government would not provide the means for them to do it, then we would all know from the outset that the Government is counting with arrears. The culture of non-payment would start to spread.

Maintaining a steady flow of money into the economic system will require the state to cover the difference between planned and realized resources through borrowing on the financial markets (in these circumstances, ultimately, with the central bank “printing money”), and not as was the case so far, by running arrears. Only thus will it extinguish the fire of illiquidity instead of stoking it with non-payment. On the one hand, the deficit needs to be maintained at the desired level by strengthening budget discipline, i.e. through more realistic budget planning (and by revising plans when developments go in an unexpected direction). On the other hand, payments and / or injection of liquidity into the system must go smoothly. The “music has to keep going” while the government has to keep paying promptly for it.

Realistic budgeting requires a systematic, not just political, disciplining of the public sector. Politicians at the helm of the state, like all of their appointees as well as civil servants, should believe that they are to budget realistically and that their expenditures will be paid promptly. This requires the introduction of genuine professional ex-ante control of public budgets that will check the reality of planning. At first, politicians might think that they are at a loss because their discretionary influence on spending would be curtailed. However, they would soon discover that they can still steer spending through policies, while earning many points for successfully managing the crisis.

As far as the private sector is concerned, the discipline of payment suffices to enforce financial discipline. Until the culture is changed, payment discipline must be imposed, but it also has to be feasible. On the one hand, the prospect of enforced collection or bankruptcy, if credible, will force everyone to plan costs realistically and to pay for them. On the other hand, in situations just like the current one, the private sector needs to have access to enough liquidity to pay even when their plans will obviously have been missed.

Availability of Liquidity

Securing enough liquidity, the third pillar of financial discipline, in general is the responsibility of the central bank. In these circumstances, it will also require that NBS’s measures be strongly supported by the Government.

The NBS has already taken adequate earliest measures to ease the immediate pressure of debt servicing on the economy and citizens. As a first measure, a moratorium on debt payments was introduced. This has put pressure on banks’ liquidity that the NBS has eased using favorable monetary and foreign exchange operations. Subsequent measures should contribute to the activation of the financial sector in support of the economy, especially the most affected ones.  The problems are twofold in a crisis situation like the current. First, banks will need stronger incentives, as well as guarantees, to dare to issue new loans to most of their clients. It should be expected that tomorrow’s package of measures lends support to short-term lending, with low, zero or even negative interest rates. Negative interest is a subsidy to a bank and / or even a business entity. In this case, it is not only about providing liquidity but also about financial assistance to the borrower. The package is likely to also include significant government guarantees for loans issued by banks during the crisis, especially to the hardest hit sectors.

However, the second problem is that the above classic package of measures, aimed at enhancing liquidity through the financial system will not be enough for Serbia because its financial sector does not reach far or deep enough. The financial markets are so-called “shallow”-reflected in the low ratio of total domestic credit to GDP. While in countries with developed financial markets it is common for it to be 90-140% of GDP, in Serbia it is around 50%. In the more advanced transition countries. it is generally above 70-75%. This means, on the one hand, that our businesses rely heavily on own-resources and would not be hit as quickly by the bank credit crunch as those in more financialized countries. However, for the same reasons, our economy’s ability to recover from the crisis will depend on these funds not being exhausted. A particular issue is that most businesses are farmers and SMEs. SMEs generate about 27% and farmers about 6% of GDP. About half of SMEs do not borrow from banks, and the majority of those who borrow do so rarely. Under these conditions, banks will not know them well enough to take the risk or lending now. To make the problem worse, banks require guarantees in personal property from small businesses. How many will be willing to risk their property? And how fair is it to require it under these circumstances?

Matters are made worse by the fact that Serbia does not have an extensive network of special institutions dedicated to supporting and financing SMEs, like other countries do. For example, Germany’s package of measures envisages that significant amounts of liquidity assistance (€ 750 billion) are pumped through separate networks—the regular financial system and the network of support institutions for SMEs.

The state should help the NBS with its own actions as well. It would be a good idea to expedite the payment of all the Government’s liabilities dragging through the courts, or waiting in line to be paid by the Treasury. We know less about the Government’s first actions, but I hope that at least it will continue to spend regularly and pay its obligations promptly so that its powerful demand and liquidity help mitigate the contraction of the economy – until targeted measures in the announced package become operational. Also, in the very short term, I expect the state to assist the system’s liquidity through segmented deferral of tax liabilities – at different rates for differently affected sectors and even for different sizes of businesses. A low interest rate would encourage those who still do not need the liquidity to pay them anyway. The Government’s support measures for businesses and citizens will also supply liquidity. Subsidies were already provided to pensioners, and the payment of subsidies per employee for SMEs, should also be considered, especially for those in the most affected sectors. This would reach a significant number of households.

Many countries in the world (and Slovenia among them) have announced the purchase of corporate bonds that are likely to target vulnerable sectors. There are no corporate bonds in Serbia, but the possibility to help corporations issue them and hence start the development of the market should be considered. In particular, the economic viability and operational feasibility of securitizing claims on certain segments of the corporate sector, especially SMEs, should be considered. For example, the administrative securitization of 30% of the economy’s claims on SMEs with certain characteristics (size, sector, previous business performance) should also be considered. These securities could be packaged and the banks could buy them using facilitated credit terms and guarantees from the state. After the crisis, banks could unpack the packages, collect claims, and trade those securities. Most likely, business would emerge to interested in dealing with the assessment of the value of these securities and willing to trade and collect on them. Unlike many other scenarios, the risk of such a liquidity injection would be split between banks and the state and its cost could be calculated in advance.

The Serbian economy will not emerge stronger from this crisis, as will not the economies of the rest of the world. However, if there is political will, and with the proverbial ability of Serbia’s society to rally action and improvise in response to adversity, Serbia can come out of this crisis with a significantly strengthened system of macroeconomic management. This would allow it to be among the faster, instead of the slowest recovering countries.

CEVES Visits International Economic Institutes

27. Nov 2018

Last week three Economic Institutes hosted CEVES representatives – “Austrian Institute for SME Research” from Austria, “GKI Economic Research” and the “Institute for Economic and Enterprise Research” from Hungary.

Director of CEVES, Mr. Nemanja Sormaz, with his associate visited Vienna in order to establish and develop cooperation with international partners. All three institutes, in the focus of their work, have research and analysis of small and medium enterprises, with emphasis on business climate monitoring, which is also in the CEVES research focus.

Dialogue with relevant representatives was around exchanging experiences on methodology, management structure, as well as cooperation with decision-makers and enterprises. Representatives of CEVES have introduced the management of all three institutes with previous research and work of CEVES in Serbia on SME.

This visit was arranged within the project with the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ) – “Private Sector Development”.

Director of CEVES Nemanja Sormaz with Thomas Oberholzner, Deputy Director of the “Austrian Institute for SME Research”

CEVES is now part of the Initiative Global Compact United Nations

18. Oct 2018

Center for Advanced Economic Studis is new member of the world platform Global Compact United Nations. With more than 10,000 participants from over 145 countries, the Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative committed to the advancement of corporate social responsibility.

CEVES started with its activities by presenting research findings about Sustainable Development Goals at Assembly of Global Compact members in Serbia, held October 4th 2018 at Chamber of Commerce  of Serbia.

The Global Compact is a framework for sharing expert knowhow and promoting the business practices of its participants, which are committed to aligning their operations with the ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. The Global Compact is not a regulatory instrument – it does not “police”, enforce or measure the behavior or actions of companies. Rather, the Global Compact relies on public accountability, transparency and the enlightened self-interest of companies, non-government organizations, civic associations and academic institutions to initiate and share substantive action in pursuing the principles upon which the Global Compact is based.

The Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set core of values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption with 10 Principles:

  • Principle 1: respect and support for the protection of internationally recognized human rights
  • Principle 2: Ensure that human rights are not violated during business
  • Principle 3: Supporting freedom of association and the application of the right to collective bargaining
  • Principle 4: Abolition of all types of forced and forced labor
  • Principle 5: banning the employment of children
  • Principle 6: eliminating discrimination in the workplace
  • Principle 7: responsible access to the environment
  • Principle 8: support for projects that protect the environment
  • Principle 9: Participation in the development of non-environmental damage technologies
  • Principle 10: the fight against corruption in any form, including extortion and briber

Kori Udovički participates in the meeting of the United Nations High-Level Advisory Board for Economic and Social Affairs in New York

18. Jul 2018

June 10th, 2018

The first session of the United Nations High-Level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, in which Kori Udovički, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Center for High Economic Studies (CEVES), is taking a part is ending today in New York. The Board is a new advisory body that supports the UN leadership’s vision of achieving an ambitious agenda of 2030, i.e. achieving the global goals of sustainable development. The committee consists of 16 members, including former presidents of countries (Ricardo Lagos and Ernesto Zedillo), laureates of the Nobel Prize (Joseph Stiglitz), and other intellectual leaders such as Jeffrey Sachs and José Antonio Ocampo.

The discussion was related to the global economic situation, the challenges in financing sustainable development, and socio-economic implications of globalization and the usage of advanced technologies as well as international migration. During the session Ms. Udovički emphasized that we are standing at the beginning of deep changes in the organization of the global order, and it is difficult to know the direction of these changes. It is therefore of a great importance that the ideas of multilateralism and the protection of the life and dignity of every individual on a planet – ideas that the UN is devoted to – are strongly promoted, including through new media and more direct communication with the world’s citizens.


A cooperation agreement was signed between the University of Metropolitan FEFA and CEVES

07. Sep 2017

September 7th, 2017

University of Metropolitan FEFA and the Center for Advanced Economic Studies signed a cooperation agreement, which created the conditions for the good practices between these two institutions to expand and to provide FEFA students with a practical experience within the CEVES field of operations.

The agreement envisages the organization of student practices by CEVES, the promotion and exchange of knowledge and practical experiences between students and teachers of FEFA and associates and partners of CEVES.

The contract was signed by the director of the Center for Advanced Economic Studies, Mr. Nemanja Šormaz and the dean of the University of Metropolitan FEFA Mr. Nebojsa Savić.

The Center for Advanced Economic Studies highlights the satisfaction with the launch of this partnership and believes that cooperation will be beneficial to both sides and in the interest of acquiring practical knowledge of students.


Danijela Bobić, CEVES’s Program director, on Radio Belgrade 1 about youth entrepreneurship in Serbia

26. May 2017

May 26th, 2017

Danijela Bobić, Program Director of the Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES) was guest on Wednesday, May 24th, in the show “In the Spotlight” (“U sredistu paznje”) which is broadcasted every working day on Radio Belgrade 1. The show was about representing and talking about results from CEVES study “Mapping barriers to youth entrepreneurship in Serbia.” In addition to Ms. Bobic, guests were Miša Živić representative of the LeanPay and Nemanja Glavinić from the organization Junior Achievement.

We invite you to listen to the discussion about the obstacles that young people face in case they are brave enough to start their own business, the examples of good practices from other countries, issues of micro-loans, appropriate incentives for young people in the first year of operation and understanding of entrepreneurship in Serbian society.

Note: The show is only available on Serbian.

Magazine “Business & Finance” – International competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

29. Dec 2015

December 29th, 2015

Danijela Bobić, Program Director at Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES), wrote an article for the January issue of professional magazine „Business and Finance“, on the topic of International Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The article shows an overview of international activities of Serbian SMEs, their ability to enter and survive on the international market, and specific sectors of the economy with a significant base of healthy SMEs, capable of growing and developing through dynamic exports, while serving as an engine for the overall economic growth.

The article also points to the most important obstacles to a stronger international engagement of SMEs, mostly in the field of access to finance and the capacities needed for finding foreign buyers and following trends and requirements on foreign markets. This is further evidenced by the fact that only 18.7% of SME exporters are capable of exporting to the same market for three consecutive years. In order to address this problem, policy makers should put their efforts into integrating a bigger number of SMEs into international trade flows, and creating the means to enable their survival on foreign markets. CEVES wishes to inspire professional audience and policy makers to start a debate on potential development policies, in order to support continuing exports of SMEs through alleviating current obstacles.

Magazine “Business & Finance” – The Development Potentials Index of Tradable Industries of Serbia 🗓

11. Dec 2015

December 11th, 2015

In the last issue of the economic magazine Business and Finance, Nemanja Sormaz, Executive Director of Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES), presented the findings of the study “The Development Potentials Index of Tradable Industries of Serbia”. In the article, industries were divided into active and passive, with further clarifications of characteristics of both subdivisions.

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Presentation of the study „Development potentials index of sectors in Serbia“ to the managing board of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce

06. Oct 2015

October 6th, 2015

CEVES presented the results of its research „Development Potentials Index of sectors in Serbia“ yesterday at the meeting of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia that supported this research. This study is a part of one big project which goal is to better understand the development potentials of the Serbian economy which need to be instrumental for future growth and also to define targeted sector support. In the upcoming period, CEVES will unveil its study that will be available to the public.

Kopaonik Business forum 2015 – Presentation of the report “Serbia’s real sector performance”

23. Mar 2015

March 23rd, 2015

CEVES has presented its study “Serbia’s Real Sector Performance” at Kopaonik Business Forum 2015. This research was supported by USAID SLDP. CEVES aimed to determine the competitiveness of Serbian enterprises, by size, industry and regions. This presentation was opened by US Ambassador, mister Michael D. Kirby, who emphasized that private sector “should grow in order to absorb unemployed workforce in Serbia”.

CEVES has analyzed the current state of Serbian economy, trends and structure in exports, competitiveness of single industries and the most promising industries. The main goal of our research is to shed light on the most promising industries, with the potential to drive sustainable growth and development of Serbia’s economy. Exports must play an integral role as the the locomotive of Serbian growth but first it is needed to enhance the international operations of current exporters and but also to encourage non-exporters to internationalize their business.