Economic and Foreign Trade Activity
According to the Serbian Statistical Office, real y-o-y GDP growth in Q1 2019 measured 2.5%, which is higher than the preliminary estimate of 2.3%. A key contribution to GDP growth on the expenditure side came from the increase in investment and final consumption. On the production side, GDP growth was mostly aided by the prolonged favourable developments in the service sectors, as well as the exceptionally positive trends in construction, which grew 12.3% in Q1.
Industrial production in April was 0.8% lower y-o-y. Manufacturing rose 1.8% s-a in April relative to March, while in y-o-y terms it dipped 0.5%. Within manufacturing, more than one half of the branches (14 of the 24) recorded production growth in April compared to the same month a year earlier.
According to the Statistical Office, April retail trade turnover rose by a real 6.7% y-o-y. In the period January–April, retail trade turnover increased by 8.9% y-o-y, driven by food, non-food products and motor fuels.
Official statistics indicate that exports of goods went up by 7.3% y-o-y in the period January–April, led by the rise in manufacturing exports (5.2%), recorded in 16 of the 23 branches, as well as by the upswing in agricultural exports (42.4%). At the same time, imports expanded by 9.0% y-o-y, buoyed by higher imports of raw material and equipment.
Based on the Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate in Q1 2019 was 12.1%, 2.7 pp lower than in the same period a year earlier. At the same time, the employment rate climbed by 2.3 pp, to 47.4%, while the participation rate of working age population edged up by 1.4 pp, to 67.2%.