The Abu Dhabi Government has signed an agreement with Serbia to lend the indebted Balkan country US$1 billion.
Hamad Al Hurr Al Suwaidi, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance signed the loan agreement with Lazar Krstic, the Serbian finance minister, the department announced yesterday.
“This loan will provide new opportunities for cooperation and will develop economic and trade relations,” Mr Krstic said. “It will support the Serbian economy and will provide numerous investment opportunities for the two sides. It will also support the goals of joint projects between the two countries”.
The news is the latest development in a warming of relations between Abu Dhabi and Belgrade which has yielded millions of dollars of investment for Serbia’s crisis-hit economy and provided Abu Dhabi-based companies with expansion opportunities.
Relations between the two nations soured in 2008 when the UAE formally recognised Serbia’s neighbour Kosovo as an independent state.
But since then bilateral commercial ties between the two nations have rocketed.
Last August Etihad Airways acquired a 49 per cent stake in Serbia's loss-making carrier Jat Airways which was rebranded as Air Serbia. Etihad was also awarded a five-year management contract of the Serbian national carrier.
Then in October the Abu Dhabi government-controlled strategic investment company Mubadala Development signed a number of agreements with the Serbian government to seek out areas for investing in technology, including aerospace manufacturing, telecoms, renewable energy and semiconductors.
The previous year Abu Dhabi’s Al Dahra Agriculture announced plans to develop 9,000 hectares of farmland in Serbia with a €300 million (Dh1.49bn) investment in Serbian farming companies and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development approved a US$400m loan to Serbia to invest in irrigation and provide loans to farmers.
And in January 2013 UAE-based Arabtec Holding, which is 21 per cent owned by the Abu Dhabi investment fund Aabar, announced it would open a regional headquarters in Belgrade to drive its expansion into the Balkan region.
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