Serbia’s debt to China has increased 12 times in the last 10 years, from 305 million to 3.7 billion euros, Radio Free Europe (RSE) reported based on data it received from the National Bank of Serbia (NBS).
Most of the debt has been generated due to loans from the Chinese Export-Import Bank, RSE points out.
According to the National Bank of Serbia data, Chinese loans currently make up 8.4 percent of Serbia’s total external debt. This means that for every 100 euros owed to foreign creditors, the country owes 8 euros to China.
In the past ten years, loans were taken for infrastructure projects, which, due to the lack of transparency from the very beginning, are still under the scrutiny of the European Union (EU).
According to Branimir Jovanović from the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, the debt situation is not yet worrisome, but that “one should be careful”.
Serbia is currently paying a loan for the construction of the Zemun-Borča Bridge in Belgrade, the ring road around Belgrade, the motorway that will connect Belgrade and Čačak, the new block of the Kostolac B thermal power plant and the high-speed Novi Sad – Ruma road, known as the Fruška Gora Corridor.
The repayment of the loan for the construction of the Preljina-Požega motorway segment and Novi Sad-Subotica railroad (a part of the Belgrade-Budapest international railway) will take the longest, until 2039. The Serbian government says that, in comparison to European loans, Chinese ones are more available and their terms and conditions are more flexible.
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