December 7 (SeeNews) - Serbia's Pirot free economic zone will seek investors to develop a 7.0 million euro ($11 million) intermodal terminal, aiming to benefit from its key location close to three major European transport corridors, its director Dragan Kostic said.
The free zone is located in the town of Pirot which lies on the pan-European transport Corridor X connecting Asia with Western Europe. It also is close to Corridor IV, linking Greece and Turkey with Northern Europe, and Corridor VIII, linking Italy and the Bulgarian Black Sea coast via Albania. These corridors connect landlocked Serbia with the Bulgarian Black Sea ports of Burgas and Varna, Greece's Aegean port of Thessaloniki and Montenegro's Adriatic port of Bar.
“For now we only have the idea, we are holding talks with everyone and we have a lot of support,” Kostic told SeeNews on the sidelines of the conference Bulgaria 2009 - 2013 Economic Visions for European Development organised in Sofia by the Bulgarian Economic Forum (www.biforum.org) last month.
The free zone’s partners in the intermodal terminal project are the municipalities of Pirot and Bulgaria’s town of Pernik, the Italian agency for promotion of logistics and freight transport Logica, German freight village association DGG, Serbia’s Tigar Corporation and the national railway operators of Serbia and Bulgaria.
Kostic said a tender for a feasibility study of the project will be launched in the first half of next year.
“After the feasibility study, we will look for partners. European funds or a private partnership, all the same."
“We reckon the terminal would cost seven million euro because it is not as big as the intermodal terminal in Sofia, which will cost 25 million euro," said Kostic.
He added the project needs a strong institutional support in order to be accomplished in the next five years.
The Pirot free zone has 65 hectares of land and plans to increase the area to 150 hectares, including the future terminal. The zone has railways, which can accommodate freight trains.
The planned intermodal terminal would act as a transfer point of cargo from rail cars to trucks and the other way round, using special truck-carrying “Ro-La” train cars. It will also contain storage, reloading and packaging facilities and will service container cargo.
PIROT FREE ZONE
Kostic said the Pirot free zone had 300 million euro turnover with 200 million euro coming from exports last year.
“So we expect the companies that operate there to generate the same turnover this year.”
Seven production companies and 140 trading firms operate in the Pirot free zone.
Kostic said Italian electric cables recycler Europa Technologi is the newest firm to start operations in the zone, while a famous German textile company is in negotiations. He declined to name it.
The companies doing business in the zone benefit from Serbia’s trade agreement with Russia. If at least 51% of a company's output is produced in Serbia, this enables the firm to export it to Russia at a customs rate of just 1.0%.
Serbia has four free economic zones: in Pirot, Novi Sad, Subotica and Zrenjanin. The country plans to set up around 15 more over the next two years.