What does the Free Trade Agreement with China mean for Serbia?

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President Aleksandar Vučić stated in Beijing that the issue of the Free Trade Agreement is very important for Serbia, because then, as he pointed out, our country becomes convincingly the best place to invest.

Vučić said that it is not only a question for our agricultural producers, winemakers and winegrowers, brandy producers and everything else, that they can sell their large quantities on the demanding but largest market in the world such as China, but that it is also a question of bringing new investment.

“It is important for the West and other parts of the world, because when they know that Serbia has a Free Trade Agreement with China, then we really become convincingly the best place to invest in that whole part of Europe,” Vucic said.

Vučić stated that after the meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, who ordered the Ministry of Trade of China to continue and quickly end the talks on the Free Trade Agreement with the Government of Serbia.

“I believe that this will contribute to further, as President Xi said, reindustrialization of our country, further progress and economic prosperity of our country, and that it will bring good results in the future,” Vucic told RTS.

He also stated that, as far as the Free Trade Agreement is concerned, everything should be completed by the end of the year.

About the meeting with the President of China

Vučić said that the Chinese president was perhaps the most relaxed and satisfied with the content of the talks during this meeting.

“He called me an old friend several times, and a Chinese proverb says that the best are old wine and old friends,” Vucic said.

He pointed out that the Chinese president confirmed that he could hardly wait to come to Serbia, but that he very rarely went to visit outside China because of the corona virus.

“We talked about strategic issues, mutual support, preservation of territorial integrity in international institutions and organizations – that is very important for our country because of Kosovo and Metohija,” Vucic said.

In addition, they talked about military-technical cooperation, but also about infrastructure projects that Serbia is working on with China.

“It is a great honor for us and a big thank you to President Xi and China for the hospitality they showed us here,” Vucic emphasized.

Which allows Serbia to compete on the Chinese market

When asked which products Serbia can compete with on the Chinese market, Vučić answered that no economy, not even the Chinese one, is self-sufficient.

“If they did, they would not try so hard to be present everywhere and slowly but surely Asia is beginning to dominate the world, unstoppably. See Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore. Not to mention others. “China is an increasingly dominant factor in Africa, more and more present in Latin and Central America, but also in Europe,” Vucic pointed out and added:

“Its trade with Germany and other developed European countries is constantly growing. Even they don’t have enough, because they always want more, stronger and wider. ”

As he stated, there is a risk for small countries that want to compete with them.

“It is not realistic for us to compete with China, and now we are looking at what we are losing and what we are gaining. If we had collected 335 million euros of VAT this year and about 110 million on customs duties on Chinese goods and services, the loss under such conditions cannot be significant and cannot be great, but the profit can be huge” , said Vucic.

He cited winemakers as an example, who instead of a million bottles, which we have not reached now, which is absolutely nothing for the Chinese market, we can sell them 10 to 12 million bottles of wine.

“It is such a boom for our wine industry, it is such a boom for our country. Not to mention brandy, not to mention our numerous agricultural products, various processed products, “said Vučić.

“These are unlimited possibilities for the progress of our country and for our exports, but do not forget that this will contribute to even greater exports of Chinese factories from Serbia to China, and that is another good and important part of the agreement,” Vucic said.

“We always take into account the public debt rate”

He emphasized that Serbia always takes into account the public debt rate.

“That’s why I laugh when they say that in some surrounding countries, the Chinese are to blame for the public debt rate. It is the fault of those who rule, who do not count how much they take. You get at very reasonable rates. The price of money will soon rise, as they say. As soon as the Fed starts raising interest rates, the European Central Bank will do the same. When the Americans go, so does everyone else. That is why it is important for us to speed up all the work as quickly as possible, to achieve and achieve everything we have dreamed of for decades, “said the President of Serbia.

Vučić added that it is important that someone performs infrastructure works safely, in a responsible way, on time, and that “we always pay” them, but also that it is important that there are conditions for financing and loans that we receive under the most favorable possible conditions.

He stated that he did not have a dilemma whether to come to China and that it was his job.

“When we talk about friendship and that conversation, you know, when in one such conversation President Xi mentions the name of the American president twice, he mentions the name of the Russian president three times, it means he knows how to talk to friends and he knows I understand what we’re talking about.” “I think that is proof of, I would say, well-founded and strong relations between our countries,” Vucic said.

He added that in 2014, when fiscal consolidation began, he “ran around the world for two years and begged to be found at any time in order to solve the problem of the Ironwork in Smederevo.”

“More than 5,000 people on white bread. An entire city is disappearing, and we are bleeding every month with between 10 and 12 million dollars. And it is not a problem to say that we will pay, okay, 120 million in a year, we will pay 500, but that is the end of it, and we could not see the end until we hosted President Xi. Do you think we need gratitude to last so short that we don’t remember it? “Those people endured de facto sanctions, quotas, stopping steel exports, everything else that was introduced by the EU and many others,” Vucic said.

He added that in those conditions, they increased salaries and hired new workers, as well as that there were no layoffs.

He reminded that only two companies applied for the international tender for the mine in Bor, and that “Zidjin”, as a better company, won and invested over one billion and 200 million euros.

“Don’t forget that Prime Minister Djindjic used to be, not because he wanted badly, but because he didn’t see a solution, people said, don’t produce copper, don’t extract ore, but plant, I don’t know, bamboo and peanuts. I want to tell you how great and important these successes are, and that is why, we knew, the Chinese lost a lot of money at the Smederevo Ironworks for a whole year. “They did not give up for a second and did not ask for financial help and support from Serbia,” Vucic said.

Duty free zone in Belgrade

He said that he highly appreciates that and that new Chinese investors are coming to Serbia.

“Now let me tell you what my idea is. We believe that in Belgrade, in one area, in one area, we will announce a duty-free zone, where the world’s most powerful companies, world companies in the field of fashion, will come, we believe that it will be within a year. “Then you will have tens and hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Japanese and many other tourists in our country, because they will be able to buy cheaper in some other western metropolises, from, I hope, from ‘Louis Vuitton’ to everyone else,” Vucic said.

He pointed out that this requires economies of scale, the arrival of a large number of people, to increase salaries and pensions, and reminded that the plan is for average salaries to be over 1,000 euros and average pensions over 500 euros by the end of the next government’s term.

About airlines to Beijing and Shanghai

Speaking about the establishment of air lines to Beijing and Shanghai, Vučić stated that the realization of those lines is closer and that the Chinese president said that he would give an order to his authorities for that and that he fully appreciates that idea.

“After almost five years of economic torture, we have made the line to New York profitable, to make money. Now we want to try to increase the number of flights, whether the plane goes to New York on Sunday or Monday. We want to introduce another flight to the North American continent. We’ll see if it’s Toronto or Chicago. A plan is being made for people to check everything, to see how many people we have are interested, “said Vučić.

The President of Serbia pointed out that he hoped that, if all these were in order, a plane from Belgrade would fly to China this year, Sputnik reports.