Turkish and Serbian business circles have high hopes for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Belgrade on Tuesday. The Turkish President wants to significantly expand economic relations.
The President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Marko Cadez, told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that certain changes to the FTA between the two countries are planned during the visit.
„The amendments to the FTA were harmonised last week and will be formally adopted during the forthcoming visit of the Turkish State and Economic Delegation to Serbia“, said Cadez.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the volume of trade between the two countries has risen steadily since the signing of the FTA in 2009. It rose from $362 million in 2009 to nearly $900 million in 2016.
However, Cadez emphasized in this context that there is still „enormous untapped potential“ between the two countries. Further liberalisation of trade in agricultural and food products will contribute to an expansion of bilateral trade.
Turkish exports to Serbia amounted to 442 million US dollars, while Turkish imports from Serbia amounted to more than 284 million US dollars in January-August 2017.
Ankara sees Serbia as a key country for regional stability in the Balkans and supports the European integration process. More than 70 Turkish companies are active in Serbia with a total investment volume of 113 million US dollars. Turkey is mainly active in the textile, food and construction sectors.
Cadez said that the amendment of the FTA provides for new factories and plants as well as new export channels in Serbia. In return, Turkish investors should be able to implement profitable investments.
It is important to start producing joint ventures for third party markets, which will benefit both sides,“he added.
Aleksandar Medjedovic, President of the Turkish-Serbian Economic Council of the Committee on External Economic Relations, commented on his country’s economy:
„Serbia attracts the highest level of direct investment in the region.“
Medjedovic agreed with Cadez that Turkish and Serbian companies could cooperate closely with each other in third countries, especially in Eastern Europe.
Serbia could become a stepping stone for Turkish companies wishing to expand in Europe. Serbia could also serve as a production site for Turkish companies thanks to low labour costs and government incentives.
Erdogan will visit Serbia from Monday to Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations, including trade. He is to meet with his Serbian counterpart and the country’s parliamentary spokesman. The Heads of State and Government of the two countries will also participate in the Turkey-Serbia Economic Forum.