Serbia wins $1bn Abu Dhabi loan
Abu Dhabi, March 6, 2014
Serbia has signed an agreement for a $1 billion loan from Abu Dhabi, the emirate's Department of Finance said on Thursday, boosting the Balkan country's drive to find investors from outside the euro zone.
Serbian Finance Minister Lazar Krstic had said on Wednesday that the 10-year loan would be given at an interest rate of 2 percent.
"This loan will provide new opportunities for cooperation and will develop economic and trade relations. It will support the Serbian economy and will provide numerous investment opportunities for the two sides. It will also support the goals of joint projects between the two countries," Krstic said in Thursday's statement.
It would further encourage private and public sectors within the UAE to look for investment opportunities in Serbia, the statement said.
The UAE approved a $400 million loan to Serbia in 2013, used for investment in irrigation throughout Serbia and loans for farmers for the purchase of agricultural equipment.
Last year, state-owned Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways acquired a $40 million, 49 percent stake in Serbian flag carrier JAT Airways, which was renamed as Air Serbia.
In 2013 Belgrade announced arms deals with the UAE, including exports of armoured personnel carriers and the joint development of a guided surface-to-surface missile.
For the UAE, the relationship offers an early back door route into the European Union, which Belgrade wants to join, and access to the former Yugoslavia's once mighty arms industry.
Serbia, a country of 7.3 million people, hopes to join the EU by 2020. Investing there would offer the UAE a chance of eventual direct access to the huge EU market before costs rise and red tape descends. - Reuters