China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao met with Serbia’s Minister of Domestic and Foreign Trade Tomislav Momirovic on Wednesday, jointly signing a memorandum of understanding to start negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, which will inject more momentum into deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
The announcement came after more European countries turned away from the so-called “decoupling” with China. During French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to China, he noted that France opposes “decoupling and chain breaking” and hopes to build a more robust and open supply chain, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Experts noted that instead of decoupling, there is a consensus on the need for increasing trade relations with China as European countries hope to promote their economic sustainability and resistance to global uncertainties.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Wang said that Serbia is China’s “ironclad friend.” In recent years, under the strategic leadership of the two heads of state, China and Serbia have worked on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with deeper economic and trade cooperation, which has become a model of cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries.
“China is willing to take the chance of FTA negotiations to further promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation between the two countries, and to stimulate the potential for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, in a bid to enhance the level of China-Serbia economic and trade cooperation in all aspects, and inject more momentum to deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.”
Momirovic said that Serbia has made cooperation with China a priority for its economic development. In recent years, bilateral trade has developed rapidly, which is reflected by Serbia’s rapidly growing exports to China, and the two countries have achieved fruitful cooperation in the fields of investment and infrastructure.
The FTA between Serbia and China will create a favorable environment and provide a strong guarantee for the development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and the Serbian side is willing to work with China to promote the early completion of the FTA negotiations, Momirovic added.
A stretch of the Belgrade-Budapest Railway that connects Belgrade and Novi Sad in Serbia marked its first anniversary of operation on March 19. The project is a sign of high-quality BRI cooperation between China, Hungary and Serbia and a flagship project for cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries.