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Serbia’s shifting investment landscape: A rise in Chinese involvement

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Serbia has become an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI), with 30% of FDI projects originating from China, marking a shift towards an economy focused on innovation and advanced technology, as emphasized by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic at the Kopaonic Business Forum.

While the services and ICT sectors experience notable growth, with the largest share of investments hailing from the European Union, Serbia has seen a rising number of companies from Asia, particularly China, investing in the country.

Last year, China accounted for 30% of foreign investments, solidifying its position as the third-largest source market for greenfield investment projects in Serbia. Notably, PowerChina, a state-owned enterprise, unveiled plans in October to construct a 150MW power plant in Bela Palanka. Concurrently, Haitian International, a Chinese manufacturer of plastic injection molding machines, is set to invest $100 million (719.92 million yuan) in establishing a new 250,000m² production facility in Ruma, northwest of Belgrade.

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Commenting on Serbia’s impressive FDI performance, Glenn Barklie, Head of FDI Services at GlobalData, highlighted the country’s edge over Bulgaria in attracting greenfield investments since 2019, despite Bulgaria being an EU member.

In 2023, the renewable energy sector emerged as Serbia’s leading FDI sector, witnessing projects in both wind and solar subsectors. UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2023 indicates that FDI inflows reached $4.65 billion in 2022, surpassing pre-COVID levels and showcasing Serbia’s growing appeal to foreign investors.

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