Looking to develop its neglected water transport, Serbian government on Wednesday signed an agreement with one of the world’s biggest port operators from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to cooperate on constructing new ports and privatization of the existing ones.
The “Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on River Port Development projects” was signed between the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic and the president of “Dubai Port World” Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. It foresees investments worth more than 200 million euros, government’s press release reads.
“Water transport was so far left aside, while investments were directed towards railways and roads,” Mihajlovic admitted in her speech after the signing, explaining that recent changes in legislation encouraged investments in the area of port infrastructure and acceleration of river transport.
She continued that Serbia, after more than 40 years, plans to invest again in the construction of river ports, and that the company from UAE could, as soon as next year, start building a completely new port on the River Danube, while a feasibility study is to determine whether they will invest in cities of Novi Sad, Smederevo, or the capital of Belgrade.
“Our country is marking an increase of river transport, but it needs investments into the development of ports and intermodal terminals in order to achieve even more significant results in this area,” she said, adding that the transport project will additionally advance the ascending path of the relations between Serbia and the UAE.
Mihajlovic also revealed that the company also expressed interest in the privatization of the state-owned Port of Novi Sad as well as participation in other projects in Serbia.
Ahmed bin Sulayem said that his company is interested in operating the river transport of Serbian import and export, as well as “connecting Serbia with the rest of the world by water transport”.
Explaining that his company runs 79 marine and inland terminals in 40 countries on six continents, with last year’s income exceeding 4 billion U.S. dollars, he confirmed the interest of the company in the privatization of the Port of Novi Sad.
He estimated that this will be a key moment for deepening relations between governments of Serbia and the UAE.