The agriculture sector plays an important role in Macedonia’s economy through its contributions to GDP (agriculture accounts for 7.9% of GDP), employment, trade and the rural economy, with the country’s nearly half the population living in rural areas. About 49% of the total land area is agricultural land, split evenly between cultivable land and pastures. Of the cultivated land, about 80% is used by approximately 180,000 private family farms. As in many Western Balkan countries, almost half the populations live in rural areas.

The average paid salaries in agriculture are among the lowest level compared with other economy sectors. According to the State Statistical Office, the average net salary per employee in 2017 for Agriculture, forestry and fisheries was €285, for Crop and livestock, hunting and connected services€277, for Forestry and forest exploitation€311, and for Fisheries Aquaculture €209.

In 2018, the overall trade (industrial + agro-food products) (export + import) compared to 2017 has increased by 14,4%. Total export (industrial + agro-food products) in 2018 compared with 2017 was increased by 17% and total import shows increase by 12,4%. The export of agro-food products in 2018 compared with 2017 has increased by 1,7% (from €536,2 million in 2017 to €545,5 million in 2018 ), and the import of agro-food products in 2018 compared with 2017 increased by 4,2% (from €759,8 million to €792,2 million).

European Union-28 is definitely the most important partner of the Republic of North Macedonia on trade with agri-food and fisheries products in 2018.

Total value of trade with EU-28 with agri-food and fisheries products in 2018 (export + import) was €670,2 million. The share of agro-food and fishery products export to EU-28 in total export of these products in 2018 was 50,5%, while the share of import from EU-28 in total agro-food and fishery products import in 2018 was 49,8%.

Second important partner of the Republic of North Macedonia in 2018 in trade with agro-food and fishery products, were CEFTA country members, with total value of trade (export + import) of €414,7 million. The share of agro-food and fishery products export to CEFTA country members in total export of these products in 2018 was 33,9%, while the share of import from CEFTA country members in total agro-food and fishery products import in 2018 was 28,9%. The most important CEFTA trade partner was Serbia with share of 12,7% of total export of agro-food and fishery products and 23,6% of total import. Following by Bosnia and Herzegovina (with share of 5,6% in total export and 3,2% in total import). Regarding export Kosovo is also important partner with share of 8,9% of total export, whiles the contribution of other CEFTA members countries (Montenegro, Moldova and Albania) is still with lower participation in trade.

Worth to be mentioned, Turkey as a candidate country and an important trade partner of the Republic of North Macedonia takes 0,79% of total export and 3,4% of the total import of agro-food and fishery products. Regarding the export of agro-food and fishery products, the largest sole non-EU trade partner with share of 4,9% of total export was USA, due to significant export of tobacco, while Brazil with share of 4,5% of total import, was largest sole non-EU import partner, basic

Single best EU export destination of Macedonian agro-food and fishery products export in 2018 was Greece, with share of 14,6% out of total EU-28 export, with tobacco, mixed prepared and fresh vegetables, lamb meat, wheat and maize being mainly exported. Germany (share of 14,4% of total export to EU-28) with wine, tobacco, other live plants (including their roots), cut­tings and slip, vegetables - uncooked or cooked, vegetables prepared or preserved, and other products. The next is neighboring Bulgaria (share of 13,2% of total export to EU-28) with tobacco, biscuits and wafers, apples and fresh peppers as the most exported products. Next is Croatia (share of 12% of total export to EU-28) with wine, biscuits and wafers, vegetables prepared or preserved; other vegetables, fresh or chilled. Than Belgium (share of 7,7% of total export to EU-28) with tobacco as most important exported product. Than Italy shares 6,8% of total export to EU-28 and the most important exported products were lamb meat, mushrooms, vegetables prepared or preserved, vegetables - uncooked or cooked and other products. Romania with share of 5,8% of total EU-28 export with biscuits and wafers, grapes and cabbages, than Poland with share of 5,7%, the most important exported products were tobacco, cabbage fresh and other live plants (including their roots), cut­tings and slip., Slovenia had 3,7%, etc.

*Official data are gathered by the Ministry of Agriculture, forestry and water economy (document called “European Union – the Republic of NORTH Macedonia Subcommittee on Agriculture and Fisheries15th MeetingBrussels, May 2019).