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Relocations, Real Estate, and Fees Trending Up in Serbia: A Buzz Interview with Branislav Zivkovic of Zivkovic Samardzic

Relocations, Real Estate, and Fees Trending Up in Serbia: A Buzz Interview with Branislav Zivkovic of Zivkovic Samardzic

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High levels of migration from Russia and Ukraine have been causing a boom in the real estate sector in Serbia, in a period of overall legislative slowdown, according to Zivkovic Samardzic Partner Branislav Zivkovic.

Following the elections that took place this spring, no government was formed yet, Zivkovic begins. “The process is still within its legal deadlines, but longer – a technical government is still in session. So, no new laws, no new pieces of legislation, other than urgent decrees,” he reports. “Since early spring, legislative activity essentially stopped.”

However, the major topic that impacts Serbia is the war in Ukraine. “We also feel the repercussions and consequences of it,” Zivkovic says. This is something he believes is ushering in new market challenges. “Serbia is in a very delicate position, in so far as it has not yet joined with the EU sanctions against Russia, but it did condemn the war,” he explains. “We support independent Ukraine, but on the other hand – because of the sentiment among the general population, as well as strong economic ties, especially in the energy sector – no sanctions have occurred yet.”

Tens of thousands of Russian citizens now seek to emigrate to Serbia – both individuals and legal entities – as well as a smaller number of Ukrainian nationals, because of this peculiar status. “This has generated huge amounts of work, with many family businesses, tech company employees, and the like. Freelances that worked for international companies have begun relocating to Serbia – as there are strong levels of support for the IT sector and tech companies here,” Zivkovic explains.

Furthermore, this situation has impacted the local real estate market. “There have been many, many acquisitions and leases that took place in the past few months, and the already-booming real estate sector has only continued trending upwards,” Zivkovic stresses.

Additionally, the energy sector is seeing interesting levels of activity on account of investor interest in alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind. “This has accelerated up to the point that we need new legislation to cater for these upticks and stronger investor interest, mostly when it comes to making grid connections easier,” Zivkovic says. “Clearly, this is a trend, with mostly local companies as first-phase investors, and foreign investors stepping in afterward.” He reports that, even though there is no one single huge project in the market, “investors think that this course of investment is safe, and it is only a matter of time until such larger undertakings will occur.”

Finally, Zivkovic reports that Serbia is “soon to finalize” a free trade agreement with China. “This will impact the market for sure, seeing as how tariffs will go down, and we might see an introduction of preferred rates or cancellation of customs duties to agricultural and other exports. Levels of mutual investments are likely to go up, even with Chinese investors having been strongly present in Serbia’s infrastructure projects for a while now,” he explains.

“Either way, all business sectors are coming along nicely, and we’re even getting some previously unseen client inquiries related to cryptocurrency regulation and autonomous driving vehicles.” Whatsmore, the market appears to be adjusting to the overall global instability as well, with “many law firms introducing inflation adjustment clauses when contracting client work. The overall market outlook continues to look promising,” Zivkovic concludes.

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Committed to redefining a law firm's role in an emerging regional market, Gecić Law is a full-service law firm that advises international and local clients from the public and private sectors in navigating the complex legal landscape of the region across multiple practice areas. Members of the Gecić Law team have graduated from leading universities in the US and Europe. They have extensive local and international experience, with a particular focus on EU regulatory frameworks and international trade and a proven track record in providing innovative and practical solutions in the most complex of matters.

Gecić Law is an exclusive member of two leading global alliances, TerraLex and TAGLaw, extending its international footprint. The firm and its lawyers have continuously been recognized in several practice areas by elite global directories, including The Legal 500, Chambers and Partners and Benchmark Litigation. Gecić Law was named Law Firm of the Year: South Eastern Europe 2021 and Law Firm of the Year: Eastern Europe and the Balkans 2020 at The Lawyer European Awards and was repeatedly nominated in other practice areas.

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