BELGRADE – The third Russian bank entering the Serbian market will add significantly to developing economic relations between Belgrade and Moscow, Andrey Khripunov, Russia’s trade representative in Serbia, told Sputnik.
In an interview with Sputnik’s Serbian edition, Andrey Khripunov, Russia’s trade representative in Serbia, underscored the importance of the third Russian bank entering the Serbian market, which he said will contribute to bolstering bilateral economic ties.
The interview came amid reports that Russia’s Expobank will soon start to operate in Serbia. It will become Russia’s third bank after VTB and Sberbank to service the Serbian market.
The news about Expobank has already provoked an uproar in some Serbian media outlets, which immediately mentioned huge sums injected in “the Russian economic and propaganda assault” which they said will allegedly hit Serbia in the near future. It seems that the so-called “economic patriots” prefer to turn a blind eye to the US investing billions of dollars in Serbia, and the fact that Russia has been present in the Serbian market for a long time, according to Khripunov.
“If someone thinks that the third Russian bank [in Serbia] adds to Russia’s ‘propaganda assault’, I will answer that it is first and foremost a good prospect both for Russian banks and the Serbian bank Marfin, which will receive a new serious major owner. This is also a good prospect for the development of our economic relations,” he said, referring to Russia ad Serbia.
He recalled that more than 30 Russian companies currently operate in Serbia, including the oil company Gazprom Neft, which injected 947 million euros into Serbia, where it created about 4,000 jobs. Khripunov added that the volume of Russian investments in the Serbian economy currently stands at about three billion dollars.
Apart from bilateral energy projects, the two countries are developing economic cooperation in other sectors. “For example, the leading Russian developer and manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, Petrovax Pharm, is now in talks with the Serbian pharmaceutical giant Galenika to discuss boosting bilateral strategic partnership,” Khripunov said.
Russia ranks fifth among Serbia’s export partners and third among its import partners. This year, Serbia substantially reduced the trade deficit, supplying 650 million dollars in goods to Russia in the first nine months of 2016.
This is an 9.1-percent increase, as compared to the same period in 2015. Adding to bilateral relations will be a free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and Serbia. At present, consultations on the matter are under way.