China’s Hesteel Group to invest $120mn in Serbia’s Smederevo steel mill

15 December 2016

China's Hesteel Group, which acquired Serbia’s only steel mill in July, will invest $120mn in the Serbian company in 2017, Hesteel president Yu Yong announced on December 14.

The acquisition of the Zelezara Smederevo steel mill (now renamed Hesteel Serbia Iron & Steel) by the Chinese giant was crucial for the survival of the regional economy since the steel mill directly employs more than 5,000 people. It is also an important driver of Serbia’s exports, ranked the second largest exporter with exports valued at €280.2mn in January-October. Above all, the acquisition was an important step towards stronger ties between the two countries.

According to Yong $120m will be invested directly in renovation and purchase of equipment and technologies.

Yong also said, after meeting Serbia’s Minister of Economy Goran Knezevic on December 14, that in the past six months about 200 professionals and technicians have visited Hesteel Serbia Iron & Steel and have significantly contributed to the improvement of production, the ministry’s statement reads.

Belgrade has been keen to attract Chinese companies to Serbia to invest in industrial production and boost employment. In order to get closer to this aim, Serbia’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs approved on December 13 a draft law to confirm an agreement mutually abolishing visas between Serbia and China. The deal was signed in November, during the fifth 16+1 China-CEE summit in Riga.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic has started an official visit to China on December 14. He will meet with the country's top officials to discuss bilateral cooperation and international affairs.