Russians "not asked for help, but offered profit"

MOSCOW -- The Serbian economy presented 75 projects worth EUR 7bn "not asking for assistance, but offering a joint creation of profit to potential Russian investors."

Željko Sertić (Tanjug, file)
Željko Sertić (Tanjug, file)

This is what President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) Željko Sertić said in Moscow on Wednesday, as he addressed a conference there.

"The profit from completing these projects is several times larger," Sertić said at Serbia Investment Conference in Moscow, organized by the PKS and the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and attended by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić.

Estimates say that the completion of each project increases its value by 3-5 times, and it takes up to 5 years to complete a project and return the investment, he explained.

The PKS will support all efforts to complete the projects, he noted, adding that the agreements and ties between the two government constituted a clear basis and support for partnership.

The PKS will also help lead the Russian partners through the maze of Serbian regulations and institutions, he stated.

Most of the projects refer to energy, but industry, agriculture, construction and tourism are also included. This is the first time Serbia is presented to the world in such a comprehensive way, Sertić stressed.

Stronger economic activity improves the relations between the two countries, whose trade is characterized by the growth of export from Serbia, particularly of goods that have undergone a high level of processing, he remarked.

Serbia expects the 2013 export to Russia to be the highest so far, reaching USD 1.1 billion, he said.

The Russian economy, especially recently, has invested intensively in Serbia's energy, banking, industry, services and tourism sectors, exceeding USD 2.5 billion, and the existing investments opened the door to future ones.

"We want more Russian companies"

Minister for Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planning Milan Bačević stated on Wednesday that one of the priorities in the economic cooperation between Serbia and Russia is to ensure greater presence of the Russian companies in the Serbian economy.

He stated at Serbia Investment Conference in Moscow organized by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce that although Russia is one of the greatest friends of Serbia, it was among the last countries to penetrate the Serbian market and start cooperating with the Serbian economy.

Bačević said that for now the best results are achieved by NIS Gazprom which pumps in the largest amount of money into the budget.

He expressed hope that other Russian companies as well, guided by the same idea and taking the well-paved pathway, will come to the Serbian market.

"Russia' Sberbank and Lukoil are present in Serbia, but we constantly have a feeling that this is not enough and that there is room for more, and the possibilities should be sought for primarily in the sector of the Serbian industry, non-ferrous metallurgy, geology, road building, agriculture, tourism and technologies," the minister said.

He said that the Serbian companies should be provided with a free market in Russia to a greater extent than at the moment.

The Russian Federation is among Serbia's greatest economic partners, and the establishment of a strategic partnership in May this year laid the firmest cornerstone of the political and economic cooperation.

Bačević said that the level of political cooperation, which we have established with Russia, is also present in the economic sphere, adding that this depends on businessmen.

The minister said that he sincerely believes that Wednesday's investment conference will become traditional and that it will yield numerous deals and signed agreements.

At Serbia Investment Conference in Moscow, potential investors were presented with 75 projects of Serbian companies, institutions and local self-governments worth nearly EUR 7 million.