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Serbia eyes Chinese investments for closer economic bond

BELGRADE - Serbia sees a potential of increase of Chinese investment that would enhance the bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, an expert told Xinhua in an interview recently.

Veljko Jovanovic, advisor of the president of the Serbian Chamber for Commerce and Industry, [Company Incorporation USA]said that Serbia has been given an important place within the 16+1 mechanism of cooperation between China and 16 countries of Central and East Europe (CEE).

"After the China-CEE summit held here at the end of last year, Serbia plays a more significant role in relations between China and this region, as well as China and Europe," he said, adding that Serbia would be a good coordinator in the transport interconnection of China and Europe.

Talking about achievements within this framework, Jovanovic said that the exchange and cooperation between China and Serbia in the areas of investments, energy, infrastructure, trade, tourism and the scientific and technical cooperation is getting deeper and deeper.

He cited as examples two important projects Chinese companies are involved in, namely the Zemun-Borca bridge over the Danube River, the first bridge built in Europe by a Chinese company, and the construction of a new block within the Kostolac power plant, the first new power station in Serbia in almost three decades.

Jovanovic expressed confidence that there is a potential of cooperation in the increase of Chinese investment into Serbia. He listed three separate segments for potential Chinese investors.

Firstly, Chinese investors are particularly interested in large-scale projects in Serbia. Secondly, Chinese companies are welcome to participate in the process of privatization of 526 state-owned Serbian companies, which will be finished by the end of this year.

The third and also a very important part is the "Greenfield Projects", a new investment plan which encourages investors to buy literally green land with nothing on it and to set up companies or factories from the scratch.

Jovanovic said: "Attracting investments, especially foreign direct investment is one of the priorities of Serbia," emphasizing that the government is dedicated to creating a stimulative business environment for investors.

According to him, the current investment policy of Serbia is oriented towards the improvement of infrastructure, the increase in value and competitiveness of the domestic export, and the increase of employment rate.

"Foreign investors are guaranteed all rights according to standards," he explained, putting on the list freedom of investment, national and equal treatment, legal security of the investment, the principle of non discrimination, conversion and freedom of payment and the right to transfer the income, etc.

Jovanovic said that Serbia is a small country and a small market, to enhance the economic link between China and Serbia, or China and CEE countries, one important thing is the access to Chinese market.

"By achieving a joint access to the Chinese market with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, [Hong Kong Company Registration Guide]Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro, I think we could be much more competitive. I think that this tendency and understanding of the market exist across the region", he concluded.

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