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UPDATE 1 - Serbia, China sign $233.7 mln deal for motorway section construction

UPDATE 1 - Serbia, China sign $233.7 mln deal for motorway section construction Author: Bulgaria's Road Infrastructure Agency. Licence: All rights reserved.

BELGRADE (Serbia), June 20 (SeeNews) - Serbia and China signed a $233.69 million (205.9 million euro) trade agreement on the design and construction of a section of pan-European Transport Corridor XI, between the towns of Surcin and Obrenovac, the economy ministry said.

The agreement was signed by Serbia's economy minister and the director of China Communication Construction Company during an official visit by China's president Xi Jinping to Belgrade, minister Zorana Mihajlovic said in a statement over the weekend.

During the three-day official visit, Serbia and China signed a total of 22 cooperation agreements, including a Joint statement on the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnership. The agreements signed cover the fields of construction, infrastructure, telecommunications, trade, economy, defence and media, the government's press office said.

According to Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the government will most likely sign a commercial contract for the construction of the Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway as well. In February, Serbia's state-owned railway operator Zeleznice Srbije signed with its Chinese and Hungarian counterparts a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a feasibility study for the project.

Moreover, Vucic met on Saturday with Zhang Qingwei, governor of the Hebei province, the home of China's second-biggest steel producer, He Steel Group, which bought earlier this year Serbia's struggling state-owned steel mill Zelezara Smederevo for some 46 million euro ($52.1 million).

Vucic and Qingwei discussed the interest of an unnamed Chinese company from Hebei in buying Serbian fruit and vegetable processing factory Budimka Pozega and completely restructuring it, as the factory is planned to run on supplies provided by a network of over 5,000 farms.

Budimka was privatised in 2008, but the privatisation was cancelled in 2010 due to failure to meet contractual obligations by the buyer.

In November, Serbia signed a memorandum of understanding with China for the construction of two sections of pan-European transport Corridor XI, including the Surcin-Obrenovac branch.

Corridor XI runs through Serbia from the northeastern border with Romania to the southwestern border with Montenegro.