Serbia eyes new Russian trade deal

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia will try to widen a free trade deal with Russia in order to make its only carmaker Zastava more attractive to potential buyers, the outgoing economy minister said yesterday. In 2000, Serbia and Russia signed a free trade agreement which allows Serbia to export some goods to Russia without tariffs. Several European Union countries have set up production units in Serbia to take advantage of the tariff free status. «We shall try to expand the trade agreement with Russia to include more products such as cars,» Mladjan Dinkic said at a meeting with a delegation representing foreign investors. «It will enable us to attract more investors for Zastava and make Kragujevac a regional center for the automotive industry.» The tender for Zastava will be called in April. Zastava, maker of the iconic Yugo hatchback, has been recovering after being damaged during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo. Last year it clinched deals with Italy’s Fiat to assemble and sell Punto cars for the Balkan and Russian markets and with General Motors for the production of Opel Astras.

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