Serbian 2013 Exports to Grow at Least 25% to 11 Billion Euros

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Serbian exports probably will expand by at least 25 percent next year because of growing car and oil product sales abroad, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said.

The exports may rise to 11 billion euros ($14.37 billion) from an estimated 8.6 billion euros this year, Dinkic told an exporter forum in Belgrade today. Serbia exported 7.24 billion euros worldwide in the 10 months through October, or 3.4 percent more than in the same period last year.

“The next year will be the turning point for the Serbian economy,” Dinkic said. “Car exports next year will be worth at least 1.5 billion euros and maybe even 2 billion euros.”

Serbia has been trying to lure industrial investors with export markets to cut reliance on imports and narrow the traditionally high trade deficit, which deepens current-account imbalances. The trade gap widened 7.8 percent through October to 4.87 billion euros. Car exports picked up 69.4 percent on year in October as Fiat SpA expands production in Serbia and sells cars abroad.

“We have yet to see the impact of Fiat exports on our trade with European countries,” Serbia’s main export market, as well as the U.S., Dinkic said. Serbian 10-month exports to the European Union expanded an annual 3.2 percent, while sales to North America grew 30.2 percent.

Exports from the Pancevo refinery, upgraded this year to produce higher quality crude oil products fit for foreign markets, may add additional 700 million euros to 800 million euros in export revenue. The Pancevo refinery, one of two in Serbia, operated by Naftna Industrija Srbije, which is majority owned by Russia’s OAO Gazprom Neft.

The export expansion will lead the economy 2 percent higher next year, following an expected 2 percent contraction this year, with both export growth and economic activity gaining pace if the government “manages to restart production at the Smederevo steel mill,” Dinkic said.

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