Acceleration of the building up of the big infrastructural projects between Bulgaria and Serbia was agreed at the Second Session of the Joint Economic Commission between the two countries, which was completed in Belgrade today. The Cо-Chairmen of the Commission – the Minister of Economy Bozhidar Lukarski and the Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antic signed a Protocol for Cooperation in seven economic spheres of priority.
The main arrangements achieved during the session are the acceleration of the work on European Transport Corridor 10, which includes the construction of a speed road connection and the electrification and the modernization of the railway line Niš – Sofia. The counties also undertook an obligation for faster rates of work for the building up of the interconnecting gas connection. A Protocol for Cooperation in the sphere of energy will be prepared for signing aimed at its being signed as soon as possible. “Financing of our part under Operational Program “Innovations and Competitiveness” 2014 – 2020 was provided for the interconnector and the design and the expropriation were performed so that we are ready to commence the construction”, Minister Lukarski said. Both Ministers emphasized how important the gas connection was for the diversification of the supplies.
The promotion of the investments and the creation of joint ventures between the two states will be of priority in the economic relationships between the two countries, which shall do business on the markers, which Serbia has agreements for duty free trade with as Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. A memorandum will be signed for the encouragement of the investments between the Serbian Investment Agency, InvestBulgaria Agency (IBA) and the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA).
A joint product “The Road of Roman Emperors” was agreed in the sphere of tourism. A Memorandum for Cooperation shall be concluded as soon as possible. The Serbian country noted down that the quantity of Bulgarian tourists in Serbia was increased by 80% during the first quarter of this year with regard to the same time period of last year when Bulgaria occupied the first place for tourist visits to the country.
Cooperation was agreed in the sphere of agriculture as well as participation in common projects for cross-border cooperation at the value of EUR 28 million.
Earlier today Minister Lukarski and Minister Antic opened in Belgrade a Bulgarian-Serbian business forum, which over 80 Bulgarian and Serbian companies participated in. Minister Lukarski declared before the participants that the regional cooperation constitutes an integral part of the stability on the Western Balkans. He assured that Bulgaria supports partnership with the Republic of Serbia in all the spheres. According to his words there is unused potential of mutual trade. The Bulgarian export consists predominantly of raw materials and materials. “Serbia is a big commercial partner of our country”, Minister Lukarski indicated. He clarified that the Bulgarian investments in Serbia added up to the value of EUR 140 million. The Minister called that the business from the two countries should make use of the good prerequisites as geographic nearness, low transportation expenditures and close languages. The main focus of the Government is the development of high technological productions with high added value.
Minister Antic declared at the forum that the conduct of the Joint Commission aims at the intensification of the economic relations between the two countries. “After lull in the last few years, yesterday we at last had an opportunity to establish good contacts. The political energy should work for the economic cooperation”, he said. Minister Antic indicated that they achieved arrangements with Minister Lukarski for the development of infrastructural projects. He said that the completion of Corridor number 10 will be accelerated in the next few years aimed at establishing fast connection between our countries. „There is already a direct airline which allows fast and efficient communication. We are preparing the modernization of the railway junction Dimitrovgrad. The gas connection will provide for diversification and energy security“, Minister Antic added. In his opinion business work is of great significance, there is a great field for the development of the trade connections between the countries and their joint going out onto third markets, inclusive of states, which Serbia has a duty free regime with. „There is great possibility for the development of tourism, it should be placed at the head of our projects”, Antic added.
The signing of an agreement between the Serbian Union of Employers and the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria is expected to give further impetus to the cooperation.