Task Forces


Forecast for Serbia and the world in 2023

Dr Marko Selakovic, Interview by Vesna Bjelić for Telegraf Biznis

Mastering new technologies, good knowledge of the English language, good communication skills act as mandatory prerequisites for any job, says the Telegraf Business interviewee.

We have a challenging year ahead of us, but it is important for Serbia to have friends. New markets are opening, and new deals are being concluded, and some old ones will be nurtured, such as cooperation with the UAE, said Marko Selaković, head of the office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce in the United Arab Emirates, in an interview to Telegraf Biznis.

As an expert on the market, he announces changes, as well as five key priorities for Serbia this year.

Selaković points out India as a country that will have a stronger influence on geopolitics and believes that the technological trend will continue, which will ultimately determine the expertise and capacity of our work force.

How do you evaluate the past year when it comes to Serbia's position in the world, in an economic sense?

- The year 2022, it was proven in vivo just how important it is to have friends. Just when, after the COVID-19 pandemic, it was thought that the world was moving towards stability and normality, a new negative turn occurred, caused by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

Serbia handled all of this in the best possible way. A balanced foreign policy also resulted in a balanced economic policy. The country's economy is stable despite all the challenges, new markets are opening, new investors are coming, and new deals are being made. When we add to that, a well-balanced budget, a stable domestic currency, and a level of public debt that is below the European level, we arrive at clear indicators that Serbia's economy has successfully overcome the challenges that time and circumstances have put in front of it. However, what my dear friend, the late professor Stojanović, would say: "Nothing is over until it's over."

Almost certainly, unpredictable events around the world will continue in 2023 – and one must be prepared to respond to them.

What 5 priorities would you single out for the next year when it comes to our country?

- The Mother of all priorities is the continuation of development, there is no doubt about that. Even more business, even more investments, even better roads, railways, telecommunication, communal infrastructure: this is how the preconditions are created for the betterment of both the state and citizens, paving way for further economic growth.

Energy stability goes hand in hand with this, in order to create prerequisites for normal functioning and continued development.

As a third priority, I would single out preserving a balanced position and further building friendships and partnerships around the world: this is absolutely necessary in order for Serbia's voice to be heard and understood even better, in order to open new markets and attract new investors. This is followed by the necessity of introducing innovations and new technologies, in order to make the most of the position that has been created and be competitive in the global game.

And equally important, that Serbia continues the even stronger fight for every one of our people in Kosovo and Metohija: only a politically and economically strong Serbia can protect the Serbs in that area.

In this sense, are there any changes in the direction when the economic policy is in question - earlier you spoke about the possibility of creating new partnerships?

- I don't expect things to turn around, but I do expect the opening of new markets and the creation of new partnerships. Serbia can and should cooperate with the whole world. Economic power goes to the East: that's why I believe that we should conquer the fast-growing Eastern markets that will continue to open and develop in the coming period. India and Saudi Arabia, for example, have enormous potential that we are underutilizing.

Those who have recognized this potential are already profiting: I recently received information from the organization "Serbia Does Apples" that the export of apples from Serbia to the Near and Middle East region exceeded the amount we export to Russia. But, we have many more trump cards than just apples.

Technologies, knowledge, other agricultural products, innovative solutions - all of this can be offered to these markets. In addition, it has been proven in practice how important it is to build long-term relationships: countries with which we have real partnership cooperation, such as the United Arab Emirates, are at the center of new global alliances. Thanks to good relations at the highest level, countless opportunities open up for us there. You just need to be quick on your feet and seize them.

As you are in an important position for our country in the UAE, what do you see as a trump card for continued successful cooperation?

- My position and role in the UAE will soon change, in order to devote myself as much as possible to building strategic partnerships and cooperation, and so that all those who, through the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia, wish to establish cooperation with this region receive the maximum possible support, regardless to their size or strength.

Serbia's strongest asset is the enormous respect we enjoy in this country and in this part of the world in general. The President of Serbia contributed the most to this with his personal engagement and example.

We on the ground have tried to continue and deepen cooperation riding the wave of such established relations, and the results are very clear: we wrote business history with Serbia's appearance at the world exhibition Expo 2020 in Dubai, increased exports from Serbia to the Near and Middle region in 2022 East, opened the door for numerous Serbian companies to enter the market, but also aroused the interest of new investors from the UAE and the entire region in our country.

In addition to exceptional political relations, people who live and work in this region in different sectors contributed significantly to this change of perception: our professors, doctors, engineers, architects and all the others are outstanding promoters of Serbian knowledge, abilities and competence.


What are the plans for the Business Hub that was in the center of attention during the EXPO?

- Bearing in mind the progress of economic relations in the previous three years and the success of Serbia's performance at the Expo, it was logical to make a new step forward. The Business Hub is being transformed into the Representative Office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, and I believe that in its basic intention - to help position our businesses in the UAE - it will be at least as successful as it has been so far.

When it comes to global economic trends, can you name 5 trends that you predict we will witness?

- Unfortunately, I am not an optimist when it comes to global trends. That moderate pessimism is based on facts and forecasts of economic development.

The strongest impression for 2023 will certainly be the recession in the West. The economic indicators are unrelenting: they clearly show the coming recession in the West, somewhat milder in the United States of America, quite severe in Europe, and long-lasting and painful in Great Britain.

If you have a projected drop in GDP, an anticipated high inflation rate, an energy crisis, and a budget that cannot support development, and most European countries are in just such a situation, the recession is inevitable.

Even countries that have sustained GDP growth, such as China, are slowing their growth.

Unfortunately, on the horizon is the continuation of the conflict in Ukraine in 2023, with further repercussions on the world economy. Disruptions in the supply chain, further disruptions in the markets of food products, metals, and gas - all of this is a reality if the conflict continues into the next year.

Chips are the new oil – without them there is no technological progress. Hence, Taiwan is another potential threat area and a conflict in that area could have a serious negative impact on the global economy.

The largest and most advanced manufacturer of microchips in the world is precisely Taiwan; therefore, a possible deepening of the conflict over this area can not only weaken China's position, but also cause a global crisis in the market of all technologically advanced products, from mobile phones to household appliances, cars, and complex machine systems.

I expect further changes on the global map of cooperation and partnerships, because the existing structures have shown that they do not have an adequate response to international crises. Due to problems in the global supply chain and strong polarizations in the political and economic sense, many countries are turning to regional cooperation. Naturally, the importance of alliances and trade agreements between individual countries or groups of countries is also increasing. Due to the uncertainty that 2023 brings, this trend will certainly continue in the next year.

In 2023, a more intensive introduction of digital currencies supported by central banks can be expected. Some countries have already introduced digital currency, and many are in the research and testing phase. Digital currencies must be backed by another value, just like any other currency.

Therefore, it is realistic to assume that there will be a global jump in the price of gold on the market: I would not be surprised if in 2023 gold prices reach their highest historical values.

You often write about the importance of India's development, and its impact on the world...

- Many in Serbia are not aware of India's size and strength. We are talking about a country that has reached China in terms of population, a country whose GDP has been continuously growing for 30 years and is definitely on its way to becoming one of the world leaders in the future.

I say this not only from the perspective of PKS, but also from the perspective of a professor at the S P Jain School of Global Management, one of the leading business schools in the Asia-Pacific region. I have direct insight into the development of this country and its potential.

In 2021, India's GDP was $3.17 trillion, almost twice that of Russia, for example. India's total imports last year were $725 billion.

During that time, in 2021, Serbia exported goods to India in the amount of 26 million dollars, i.e. slightly more than 0.0036% of the total Indian imports. Therefore, exports from Serbia to India on an annual basis are measured in units per thousand, and not in percentages, viewed against their needs.

Obviously, we have not tapped the potential of this market, not even close. There is a huge scope for improving and increasing exports, first of all, taking into account the historically good relations between our countries.

For that, you need to solve the logistics and harmonize the regulations, but if there is a will, there is a way.

Budgets have mostly been adopted and are mostly recessionary, do you see room for some changes?

- Don't look at the whole world from a western perspective. Precise wording would be: the budgets of Western countries are generally recessionary. The budgets of the Middle Eastern countries are still developing, because it is expected that, regardless of the recession in the West, the price of oil on the world market will remain above the level of 80 dollars per barrel.

Therefore, development and economic power lie in the East. Again, regardless of the problems that Western countries will face in 2023, and regardless of the fact that I do not expect changes in their recessionary budgets, the European Union is and will be Serbia's strong and most important trade partner.

In your opinion, what will a worker in Serbia and the world look like in 2023? What skills will he have to learn, where will he first find a job, what kind of employer will he be looking for?

- Worker and technology must go hand in hand. Learning has become a continuous process at all levels and lasts throughout life, because technology is developing at such a speed that without learning it is impossible to remain competitive.

Mastery of new technologies, good knowledge of the English language, good communication skills are already mandatory prerequisites for any job.


Serbia and the world are no different in this matter, and this fact makes me even more happy, because it shows that our country has picked up the pace and made a serious step forward, absolutely becoming an integral part of the technological world.

Not only domestic innovators, but also numerous foreign investors contributed to this.

I believe that the trend of technological development will continue in the coming year and those good workers and good experts will be able to seek their future both in the private sector and in entrepreneurship.

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