Serbia to experience increase in Japanese investment in 2006

Serbian Minister of Finance Mladjan Dinkic said today, completing a five-day visit to Japan, that the first bigger Japanese investments in Serbia can be expected next year.

Dinkic said that with this trip, Serbia has furthered business relations with Japan, the world’s number two economic power. Following the successful conclusion of the three-year financial arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is expected that Japanese investors will start investing in the Serbian economy, which will contribute to the increase of foreign investment and creation of new jobs.

The minister said that an important precondition for the arrival of Japanese companies to Serbia is the improvement of the domestic credit rating. He said that representatives of the Japanese insurance agency NEXI announced that Serbia’s credit rating will be reconsidered, which is a needed step in order for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to approve soft credit lines to Japanese companies wanting to invest in Serbia through a type of loan that would be released from Serbian banks.

Dinkic and the Serbian delegation held an investment conference today in Osaka, at which, on the invitation of the Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO), representatives from 120 companies and two investment banks were presented with investment opportunities in Serbia.

The Minister of Finance said that the Japanese investors are interested in the metals, aviation and car industries, in addition to looking at investments in transport and infrastructure.

Dinkic noted that Serbia has export opportunities in the health food market as well as the potential to attract Japanese tourists. The minister pointed out that Serbia has a favourable geographic location, and when compared to neighbouring countries that have recently become members of the EU, there is an advantage in terms of production costs.

Serbia-Montenegrin Ambassador to Japan Predrag Filipov said that the visit to Japan by representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Finance and the Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA) opened a new page in the relations between Serbia and Japan, which will help to increase Japan’s presence in Serbia and vice versa.

In a meeting with Dinkic and Filipov today at the Kincho company, Serbia-Montenegrin Honorary General Consul to Japan Naohide Ueyama promised to help in the promotion of the Serbian economy in Japan. The Kincho company, which is owned by Ueyama, was founded in 1929 by his great-grandfather Eichiro Ueyama, who served as the first Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in Japan. The participants in the meeting agreed that in the near future they will organise “The Serbian Week in Tokyo”, a business event during which Serbian companies, primarily from the food production sector, would be presented.

The delegation, headed by Dinkic, also visited Japan Tobacco International (JTI), the country’s largest tobacco factory with an annual output of 40 billion cigarettes. JTI has expressed interested in the recently announced tender for the sale of the Senta tobacco factory.