Interview: China-Serbia economic collaboration poised for significant growth, says expert

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SHANGHAI, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Economic collaboration between Serbia and China is poised for significant growth, with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) paving the way for a future of shared prosperity, said a Shanghai-based Serbian expert on trade.

Since 2016, when China and Serbia agreed to upgrade their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership in a show of their shared commitment to further deepening bilateral cooperation, their economic relationship has been steadily strengthened, particularly under the BRI, Jelena Grubor Stefanovic, Director of Representative Office of Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

With a decade of experience in China, Stefanovic has been working on creating opportunities for Serbian businesses in the Chinese market and vice versa, with an increasing focus on technological cooperation.

Serbia has been a staunch supporter of the BRI since its inception, with over 60 projects completed and around 16 ongoing within the initiative's framework.

Stefanovic described the Budapest-Belgrade railway, which connects the capital cities of Hungary and Serbia, as one of BRI's flagship projects in that part of the world due to its nature as the first tripartite agreement signed between China, Serbia and Hungary.

She also highlighted the Pupin Bridge over the Danube River in Serbia, which opened in 2014 as one of China's significant infrastructure investments in Europe.

"During the past two years, China has emerged as the largest foreign direct investor in Serbia, bringing numerous benefits to the country," she said. "Now Serbia has more opportunities to systematically focus its efforts on attracting investments from China in industry sectors with high added value like life sciences, digital economy, automotive industry, smart agriculture sector and green development."

During the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2023, China and Serbia signed the Free Trade Agreement, focusing on eliminating tariffs on 90 percent of goods.

Stefanovic believed that the agreement would bring a myriad of opportunities to both countries and open new avenues for trade and investment, fostering closer people-to-people and business-to-business exchanges.

"I think the more they learn about each other's market, the more they can see about the vast opportunities. The business communities have to seize now such opportunities," she noted.

Witnessing China's rapid transformation into an innovation-driven economy, Stefanovic expressed optimism about its resilience.

"The Chinese government is focusing on supporting advanced technology development as the key pillar of its economy," she said, adding that there's no alternative market to provide fertile ground for innovation and growth at China's scale. Enditem

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