BELGRADE, 3 December (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic are holding talks in Belgrade, BelTA has learned.
On 2 December the two heads of state met during an informal dinner. Official negotiations of the two presidents are taking place at the Palace of Serbia on 3 December. Close attention will be paid to prospects of increasing the trade turnover and developing economic cooperation.
In a recent interview with Belarus 1 TV channel Aleksandar Vucic said that the countries can reach $500 million in trade. “We need to work further and set a goal of reaching $500 million. I think we can open new areas in all spheres of public life. I expect that Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit will be a serious impetus to the development of our relations,” the president of Serbia said.
In 2018, the Belarus-Serbia trade turnover fell by almost 40% to $148 million. In January-September 2019, the bilateral trade continued to decrease to make up $110.6 million. The countries are now working on a number of projects which will help bolster the economic cooperation in the near future.
In 2018-2019, Belarus exported 33 fire engines with MAZ chassis worth almost $2 million to Serbia. The Serbian side will continue to upgrade its fleet of fire engines till 2021. Therefore, talks on possible cooperation are now in progress. Serbia can either purchase finished vehicles of Belarusian Pozhsnab or set up a joint venture.
Belarus is ready to deliver passenger vehicles to Belgrade. The city needs them. However, the sides have not reached concrete agreements yet. Mre than 300 Belarusian-made buses and 100 trolleybuses are currently used in Belgrade. In March, the city administration asked MAZ to deliver 200 new buses. However, the issue has been postponed.
In 2019, BelAZ exported $9.2 million worth of spare parts to Serbia. It is expected that the participants of the Belarusian-Serbian business forum will sign contracts on the delivery of six vehicles to the tune of $8 million.
There are joint ventures assemblying Belarusian tractors (with the annual output of 450 tractors) and buses (140 buses were assembled in 2016-2018) in Serbia. During the Belarus president's visit to Belgrade the sides are expected to conclude $9.7 million contracts on the delivery of 535 tractors in 2020.
Bobruiskagromash began working with Serbian partners in 2019. A dealership contract has been signed. The sides are mulling over the project to produce low-floor MAZ buses powered by natural gas for Belgrade and to build natural gas fueling stations.
Belarus has exported metal products to Serbia since 2017. Belarus' export is expected to exceed $21 million in 2019. During the business forum the sides are expected to sign a framework agreement on the delivery of metal products to the tune of $16.8 million in 2020.
The Belarusian side can also benefit from purchasing the shares of the Serbian enterprise Magnochrom producing fireproof materials. The enterprise has already submitted its proposal to the Belarusian Industry Ministry.
These projects will make a contribution to the enhancement of economic cooperation. However, the countries will have to revise their relations and to prepare new ambitious projects in order to reach the trade turnover target of $500 million. The visit of Aleksandr Lukashenko to Serbia should give a substantial boost to these efforts.