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Into the honey pot: Serbia and China ink free trade deal

The agreement will particularly benefit Serbian honey producers, President Aleksandar Vučić said.

OCTOBER 18, 2023

Serbia and China signed a free trade deal on Tuesday, bringing the two countries closer together at a time when much of Europe is seeking to “de-risk” trading ties with China.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Tuesday, told reporters in Beijing the agreement was “a big step forward” for Serbia.

"I am grateful to President Xi Jinping for the importance he gives to Serbia," Vučić wrote on Instagram.

The Serbian leader said he hoped the agreement would enter into force by May or June next year.

It is the fourth free trade deal China has struck with a European country, after Switzerland, Iceland and Georgia.

Though the details of the agreement have not been made public, it will particularly benefit Serbian producers of honey, Vučić said, as well as the country's winemakers.

It comes as the European Union, which does not have a free trade agreement with Beijing, is seeking to "de-risk" from China and deploy more of its trade armory against what it sees as China's unfair trading practices.

According to Chinese state media, President Xi Jinping called Serbia an "ironclad friend" of China.

The two countries also signed a raft of commercial agreements with Chinese companies to build infrastructure in Serbia, including a high-speed motorway.

In 2022, China was Serbia's second largest trade partner, with trade between the two countries amounting to $6.15 billion.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended the forum. Vučić said he spoke “very briefly” to Putin but gave no further details of what was said.



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