Keynote Speech of Milan Bačević at Plenary Session of 2017 Xi'an Silk Road Business Summit
8 Sep 2017



Milan Bačević

Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia


Keynote Speech


Plenary Session of 2017 Xi'an Silk Road Business Summit


8 September 2017


Your excellences,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,


First of all, let me thank you for this opportunity to address this meeting.


The political and economic relations between the Republic of Serbia and the People’s Republic of China are at the highest level in our history. Serbia actively participates in the mechanism of cooperation among the China and the Central and Eastern European Countries and we are fully supportive to “One belt, one road” initiative. Because of our favorable geographic position, we expect to fully develop the potentials for the construction of the road, railway and inland waterway infrastructure that links the Maritime Silk Road for the 21 Century with the Central Europe.


Total value of all ongoing and planned infrastructure projects in Serbia that are being developed with Chinese partners is 5.6 billion euros. The good examples are the construction of the bridge over the Danube River, as the first capital infrastructure project completed by Chinese companies in Europe, construction works on the highway infrastructure and revitalization of the Power Plant “Kostolac”. The high-speed railway Belgrade – Budapest project is the first big infrastructure project which is being realized within the China + 16 cooperation mechanism and it is progressing well and in line with the mutually agreed timetable.


We expect our economic relations to enter into the new phase which will be based not only on infrastructure projects, but also on direct investments, according to the principles of market economy. It is vital for Serbia to attract more foreign direct investments and the investors from China are most welcome. For Chinese companies, it is crucial to come to Serbia and learn more about our regulations and the advantages that they can have.


The key industries in Serbia are food industry, automotive, metalwork, machine building and electronics industry etc. Serbia's tax regime is highly conducive to doing business - the corporate profit tax is among the lowest in Europe, while the Value Added Tax is among the most competitive in Central and Eastern Europe. Different financial incentives are provided to foreign investors in order to attract more direct investments. We have established 14 free zones where import and export are free of VAT, customs and clearance. The other competitive advantages of Serbia are its geographic position, political stability, skilled labor force, and established free trade agreements. All products produced in Serbia can be customs-free exported to a market of more than 800 million people that includes the European Union, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Turkey, South East Europe, the European Free Trade Agreement members and Belarus.


The process of privatization of the big state owned enterprises in Serbia is continuing and we want Chinese companies to take part in it. The privatization of the steel plant Zelezara Smederevo by the company HeSteel is excellent example of successful Chinese direct investment. Among the potentially interesting actual projects we could mention the building of new industrial parks, privatization of enterprises Galenika, Petrohemija, Budimka, RTB Bor (one of the largest copper mines in Europe and smelting complex), etc.


Serbia has got the important natural resources and long lasting tradition in agriculture. We have concluded agreements concerning the quarantine and health requirements for exporting frozen beef and lamb meat to China and we are intensively working on the certification of the pork meat, dairy products, corn, dried plums, pet food and other agricultural and alimentary products. The cooperation in this field will also open the huge possibilities for Chinese companies to invest in our food production and procession capacities.


We hope that Serbia will be the next place of interest to be discovered by Chinese tourists. In order to facilitate the mutual people-to-people exchanges, we have established the visa–free regime with China. The direct flight line from Beijing to Belgrade will be opened on 15 September this year. Many opportunities are opening for investments in our hotel infrastructure, spa and health resorts, ski centers and river and lake tourism.


Ladies and gentlemen,


We believe that the cooperation with China will be one of the engines of our future development. The excellent existing political relations should be followed by similar level of economic cooperation. Therefore, I would like to use this opportunity to invite once again Chinese entrepreneurs and business community to come to Serbia and to develop their projects.


Thank you.