_ EEC. Nur-Sultan, 11 April 2019.
The agreement of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on a free trade zone with Serbia is due to be signed in October 2019, member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Veronika Nikishina said at the international conference “From Idea to Reality: 25th Anniversary of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Eurasian Initiative,” that was held in the city of Nur-Sultan.
“This year we ended negotiations with Serbia and are now launching the procedure for the signing of this agreement. We hope to sign it in October,” Nikishina said.
She noted that “just a step separates” the EAEU from “the end of negotiations with Singapore on a free trade zone.” “If we evince patience and will aimed at achieving results – we also want to sign this agreement this year,” the member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission explained.
The conference gathered about 300 people, including management representatives for the Eurasian Economic Commission, the parliaments and the Russian and Kazakhstani foreign ministries.
Serbia is ethnically close to Russia and has traditionally close ties with Moscow. The country has a service-based upper middle income economy with the tertiary sector accounting for 70% total GDP. Nominal GDP in 2019 is expected to amount to US$52.424 billion (US$7,526 per capita). The strongest sectors in the Serbian economy are energy, automotive, machinery, mining and agriculture, while primary industrial exports are automobiles, iron and steel, rubber, clothes, wheat, fruit and vegetables, nonferrous metals, electric appliances, metal products, weapons and ammunition. Trade plays a major role in Serbian economic output. The main trading partners are Germany, Italy, Russia, China, and neighboring Balkan countries.
“Russia’s role in developing trade in the Balkans is in the ascendency” says Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates “Serbia’s decision places it firmly to the East as opposed to the EU. It will be interesting to note how Serbia’s FTA with the EAEU sits alongside its recent MoU with China for Agriculture with its Belt & Road Initiative.