Russia And Serbia Look For US$4 Billion In Bilateral Trade

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Russia and Serbia are capable of not only bringing their trade turnover to the pre-pandemic level but to increase it to US$4 billion, Russian Ambassador Alexander Botan-Kharchenko said speaking at the Russian-Serbian business forum in Belgrade.

Speaking at the opening of the forum of the Russian Export Center (REC) ahead of the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation between Russia and Serbia, the ambassador noted that in the coming days, the parties will search for ways and mechanisms “not only to reach the pre-covid level of trade and economic activity,” but also to ensure work for “reaching a trade turnover of US$4 billion, which is quite realistic.”

According to him, there are all conditions for this, including a high level of cooperation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandr Vucic.

In turn, Nenad Popovic, head of the intergovernmental committee for cooperation with Russia, noted that “relations between the two countries and their Presidents have never been better than today.”

As an example of a high level of cooperation, he recalled that Serbia was the first European country, which launched the production of the Sputnik V vaccine, and added that by the end of the year, 4 million doses of the drug would be produced in the republic.

In early September, Krasnodar hosted the first Russian-Serbian youth forum in the history of relations between Moscow and Belgrade. The event was attended by students, young entrepreneurs, artists, representatives of public and volunteer organizations from Serbia and Russia. During the four days of the forum, the participants went through educational programs in three areas: art and media, business and tourism, social and humanitarian initiatives.

Serbia is something of an anomaly in Europe as it has a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) although it is surrounded by European Union members. It also fails to fully recognise several neighbouring EU friendly states, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia, regarding them as ‘false states’ carved out from Serbia because of the Yugoslav wars in 1999 where it saw a great deal of territory, including its coastline, split away and cede to the EU. Serbia had the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe as a result and has treated Brussels with suspicion ever since the conflict, essentially a civil war, saw ex-Yugoslavia divided with the EU taking what Serbia saw as the prime areas of its territory. It has remained close to Moscow ever since.

Russia-Serbia trade was about US$3.4 billion in 2019 but declined 60% during the pandemic to US$911 million in 2020. Serbia joined the EAEU in November last year. Major Serbian exports to Russia include fruits, nuts, rubber, fabrics, and industrial machinery; Russian exports to Serbia include a wide variety of commodities along with steel, tobacco, plastics, copper, and aircraft.

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