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Serbia’s financing plan for EXPO 2027: A closer look at Belgrade’s investment strategy

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Serbia is set to finance the specialized world exhibition EXPO, scheduled to take place in Belgrade in 2027, over the next three decades, as reported today by Radio Free Europe.

The EXPO is classified as a “non-profit event,” and the justification for the investment relies heavily on utilizing the constructed complex as a new fair space. According to the “Preliminary justification study for EXPO and the new fair space,” reviewed by RSE, the return on investment period is estimated to be at least 27.4 years.

Despite the significance of this study in determining the social and financial viability of the project, it has not been made available to the public or independent oversight institutions responsible for monitoring state expenditure.

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Prepared by the consulting firm “Bates” from Bulgaria, the “Preliminary justification study for EXPO and the new fair space” was commissioned by the Ministry of Construction on June 20, 2022.

“Bates” has been engaged as a consultant on various projects in Serbia since 2001, including cost estimation for projects within the Belgrade Waterfront settlement and the construction of office buildings for several international companies.

Responding to inquiries from Radio Free Europe, the Ministry of Construction stated on May 7 that the final Study of justification for the construction of the EXPO complex is still pending completion.

The location for the EXPO was revealed by government officials in 2022, with plans to construct the complex in the suburban neighborhood of Surčin, Belgrade. Initially, the chosen site was agricultural land lacking traffic and communal infrastructure.

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According to the “Preliminary feasibility study of the EXPO project and the new exhibition area,” the construction costs for the exhibition complex alone at this location are estimated at 500 million euros. The fair portion is projected to cost 241 million euros, with an additional 259 million euros allocated for additional facilities.

To ensure economic viability, the study relies on the expectation that the fair will relocate to the newly constructed facilities in Surčin after the exhibition. These facilities will host a variety of events, concerts, and conferences in addition to the traditional fair activities.

If these plans materialize, the return on investment for the 241 million euro expenditure solely for the exhibition halls is anticipated in almost 30 years, as per the study.

Belgrade EXPO 2027 is not a global exhibition but a specialized one focusing on education, innovation, and sustainable development. It will run from May 15 to August 15, 2027, bridging the gap between two editions of the world EXPO, which remains the largest event of its kind.

Japan will host the next world EXPO in 2025, with Osaka organizing the exhibition on a sprawling 155-hectare site, with a budget estimated between 1.2 to 1.6 billion euros.

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