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Serbia’s Committee for monitoring UAE investments not formed after three years

Serbian Government signed a bilateral agreement with the United Arab Emirates in 2013, but the regulatory body that should monitor the deals with the UAE companies has not been formed for three years now.

The beginning of the work on Belgrade Waterfront- Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (on the far right)
The beginning of the work on Belgrade Waterfront- Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (on the far right)

In 2014, Serbian Government signed the Agreement on establishing a joint Committee for cooperation with the UAE. However, this regulatory body has not yet been formed despite the fact that companies from the UAE as well as the Government of this country have been present in Serbian market and economy for years.

Formation of the Committee was foreseen by the bilateral agreement between Serbia and the UAE  signed in 2013, and the terms of formation were defined by another agreement signed in March 2014.

In August 2013, Serbian Government even appointed the Vice-president of the Government at the time, the current PM and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic as the president of the Serbian side of the Committee and former Minister of Economy Mladjan Dinkic as his deputy.

Insajder Production asked the Government whether the Committee for cooperation with the UAE is active, who the members of the Committee are and when their last meeting was held, but the only answer that was received was that “the formation of the joint Committee is still in diplomatic procedure.”

The representatives of the Serbian Government announced on numerous occasions the UAE investments in military industry, four billion euros worth investment in computer chip factory, five hundred million euros investment in agriculture, and many other investments which should support Serbian economy.

According to the public data of the Peoples Bank of Serbia (NBS), the UAE’s investments in Serbia for the past year totalled 81.1 million euros. Most of the announced UAE projects in Serbia were never implemented. Moreover, the biggest deals that are being implemented are those in which the state of Serbia gives numerous benefits to the companies from the Emirates without any precise data on effects of the investments of Serbia in those projects.

One of the cases of the UAE’s “investment” is the lease of agricultural land in Serbia, for which the UAE company Al Rawafed has not paid a single cent for years.

According to the Agreement on forming the joint Committee, the Committee should be formed by the Ministers (or their representatives) from Serbia and the UAE.

However, the companies from the UAE usually do not invest the agreed amounts in the projects in Serbia. Instead, the real investment is coming from the Serbian state budget. Also, the state of Serbia is usually the minor partner in these projects while the UAE companies, with lesser investment, get bigger shares in the joint companies.

Jelena Jankovic

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