Analysis 27 Jun 16

China’s ‘New Silk Road’ Ambitions Boost Sino-Serbian Ties

Serbia should secure infrastructure investment by capitalising on Beijing's planned 'New Silk Road' trade route from Shanghai to Berlin, experts say.

Sasa Dragojlo
BIRN
Belgrade
Serbian PM Vucic with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Serbian counterpart Nikolic during the visit to Zelezara. Photo: Beta.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to Serbia starting on June 17, top Serbian officials bearing respectful earto-ear smiles could be seen buzzing around him like bees to honey.

And that is hardly surprising, given China is now a major economy and foreign investor while Serbia continues to struggle with the fallout of the global economic crisis, insufficient infrastructure and the challenges of transitioning to a market economy.

In fact, economics experts claim Serbian officials should be doing a lot more to court Chinese investment in much-needed infrastructure projects, noting Serbia is a key stopping point on China’s planned ‘New Silk Road’ – a trade route stretching from China to the heart of the EU market via Eastern and Central Europe.

Jovo Bakic, political analyst and sociology professor at the University of Belgrade, told BIRN that Serbia should “cash in” on China’s aspirations to access the EU trade market considering its geographical and geopolitical position.

“Serbia can use cooperation with China to boost its infrastructure, since Serbia has one of the worst infrastructure networks in the region. Without infrastructure there isn’t any economic development,” he said.

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