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Serbia’s parliament ratifies Free Trade Agreement with China

CGTN | 12 December 2023

Serbia’s parliament ratifies Free Trade Agreement with China

Serbia’s parliament has ratified a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, signed between the two countries this October in Beijing. Around 10,500 Serbian and 9,000 Chinese products are on the free trade list, meaning that there will be no import duties on trading those items between the two countries.

Within a few weeks after the agreement was signed, a large group of business people from the Chinese city of Ningbo arrived in Serbia to meet with their potential Serbian partners. The consultation took place in the Serbian Chamber of Commerce in Belgrade, and its sole purpose was to lay the groundwork for both sides to eventually reap the benefits of the deal.

The FTA will come into effect 90 days after the Chinese side ratifies it. The math says that should be sometime around June next year. From that moment on, Serbia will become the 27th country in the world to have free trade deal with China.

Food products dominate the list of Serbian exports set for China. Local producers at the Serbian end have already started preparations to enter the Chinese market, like one of country’s largest confectionery and snack company, Jaffa. It is already present in nine countries, and they are looking to expand, as Aleksandar Opacic, Jaffa’s Marketing Director told CGTN Europe.

"The signing of this agreement is good news for us as an exporter company. Our products will now be more competitive on the Chinese market," he said. "But this is not sufficient enough, as the producers often forget the most important factor for success at some market, and that is the local consumer."

Opacic said the tastes of local Chinese consumers are something that Serbian food producers have to satisfy if they want to get the most out of the FTA. They will have five years to do that, as not all 10,500 Serbian products will be immediately abolished from the Chinese customs taxes.

"During the next five years, we will have 80 percent of our total exports to China fully liberalized with zero percent customs taxes," Jelena Tanaskovic, Serbia’s minister of agriculture, forestry and water management, told CGTN. "I think it is the most important thing that we did for our primary producers."

Serbia also hopes this agreement will lure more foreign investors interested in selling their products in China. They hope the FTA will make Serbia more attractive for production facilities especially built for tax-free exports to China.

 source: CGTN