China has a substantial and contentious presence in Europe. In the western Balkans, the Asian country’s rapid strides have made Serbia one of the chief beneficiaries of Chinese investment.
Chinese automotive parts manufacturer Yanfeng Automotive Interiors has recently opened its first plant in Kragujevac, central Serbia. As a new employer in the Western Balkans, the manufacturer aims to employ 200 workers in the initial phase and up to 800 workers in the long term.
The Balkans has become the main attraction for Chinese investment as it serves as an entry point into the lucrative European market. Serbia is a good prospect for China to promote Chinese exports to Europe, particularly to the entire south-east Europe market, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, and Albania.
Over the past 10 years, Chinese companies have invested in assets adding up to at least $318bn. China also backs its enterprises to commit money in Serbia and take part in Serbia’s infrastructure construction.
The most illustrious is the Belt and Road Initiative, the ambitious project to build land and maritime networks that will link Asia with Africa and Europe. Chinese companies have also caught up with critical industries in Serbia such as a copper mine, a steelmaker and a thermal power plant, besides high-speed rail lines, roads, and ports.
Further Investments in Serbia
With this new plant in Serbia, China is expanding manufacturing capacity in Eastern Europe’s growth markets and responding to their customers’ increasing presence in the region, said Tony Elenbaas, the vice president and general manager for Europe and Africa at Yanfeng.
The factory was built in less than 10 months and is the first large Chinese company in Kragujevac. The opening of the Yanfeng plant in Serbia’s Šumadija district comes after the announcement of Xingyu, another Chinese car parts manufacturer to open a factory in Niš, Serbia’s third-largest city.
Expected to employ close to 1,000 people, Xingyu’s factory will see an investment of 50 million euros in the Niš Industrial Zone. Construction is due to start in the first quarter of 2020.
The plant will work on production LED lighting for top-notch car manufacturers such as BMW, Renault, Volkswagen, and Audi.
According to Raiffeisen Banka Serbia, the European country has attracted 56 percent of all Chinese investments in Central and Southeastern Europe between 2014 and 2018. China’s stake in Serbia’s total FDI went up to 20.3 percent in 2018, up from six percent in 2017, with Chinese investment and construction contracts in Serbia valuing at about 8.5 billion US dollars since the start of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Source; Daily Research List