Brnabić was one of the speakers at the opening of the fair along with Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron, Greek Prime Minister Kiriyakos Micotakis and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holmes. The fair has brought together around 150 countries and 3,000 companies with exhibitions at 400,000 square metres of showroom space.
Brnabić said that Serbia has made its choice clearly and unequivocally – and that is a path of peace and cooperation and a path of general and common prosperity.
Our strategic commitment is that as a candidate country for EU membership, we are changing ourselves every day and constantly building partnerships with as many countries in the world as possible, actively working to resolve outstanding issues in our region, the Serbian Prime Minister stated.
Such a policy is not only correct in the system of values, but it also brings concrete benefits for our citizens and the economy, and also for Serbia’s partners.
Brnabić underlined that the Serbian government wants to further deepen cooperation with China, and that the two countries share the same economic vision of the 21st century – a vision of sustainable development, economic interdependence, balanced trade, peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation.
She pointed out that this year’s fair in Shanghai is being held at a time when the world economy and international trade are at a crossroads, with the essential choice between two visions and two paradigms of international economic relations in the 21st century.
According to her, on the one hand, there is a path of peaceful coexistence, cooperation and a common future, which implies further globalisation, the strengthening of economic interdependence, dialogue between civilisations and intensification of interpersonal ties.
On the other side, there is protectionism, tariff and non-tariff barriers and trade wars, Brnabić stated.
She said that instead of a future where we would work together for the common good, pool resources and together look for solutions to challenges – from climate change, migration, to digitalisation, we often choose to close ourselves, not communicate and run away from problems, hoping that these problems will get past us, and that someone else will have to deal with them.
We hope that our common problems and challenges will be addressed by another country and nation, we hope that our economy, scientists, innovators will be protected not by investing in them to become more competitive, but by preventing others to compete with them. For me, it is a path that will bring more problems and less general benefits and well-being to all of us every day, instead of making this world, our common ground, a better place for all of us to live in, she said.
The Prime Minister stated that in 2018 Serbia achieved a 4.4 percent economic growth rate, the highest in the previous decade, that it reduced unemployment by more than half, it reduced public debt to 52 percent of GDP, and it has achieved the highest level of foreign direct investment from all countries of the world in relation to the size of our economy.
Brnabić said that thanks to a policy of openness and cooperation, a sincere commitment to the well-being of Serbia, but also of all partners – whether they are in Europe, Asia, America or Africa, companies operating in Serbia can export their products under privileged conditions and duty-free to both the EU market and the markets of the Eurasian Economic Union and Turkey.
Although we are a small country, incomparable to China in terms of size, strength and resources, we share the same path – a path of partnership, openness and cooperation, rather than barriers and closures, Brnabic stated.
She said that China, with constant high economic growth rates and a contribution to global economic growth of nearly 30 percent in 2019, is today the best example that growth and development in the 21st century can only be achieved in cooperation with other countries, not at their expense.
We strongly support the continuation of China’s policy of opening and reform in the new era. This policy not only contributes to China’s further progress, but also opens up a number of development opportunities for other countries around the world, she added.
The Prime Minister said that Serbia is determined to take full advantage of this unique historical development opportunity.
According to her, the benefits of China-Serbia’s steel partnership are felt in everyday lives of citizens, and Serbia is the country with the largest number of projects and signed contracts with China under the “17 + 1” cooperation mechanism.
The Prime Minister noted that Serbia, with Chinese companies, is working on the development and promotion of the “Europe-Asia Land-Sea Express Line” transport corridor from the Piraeus port in Greece, through Belgrade in Serbia, to Budapest in Hungary, while Chinese companies, through Hbis, Zijin and Linglong, not only contribute to Serbia’s re-industrialization and regional infrastructure integration, but also serve as a bridge to the interpersonal and cultural cooperation of our two countries.
The vision of the Serbian government is to deepen the cooperation between Serbia and China in the years ahead. To show that the complementarity of our economies, despite differences in size, can be expressed in other areas, such as IT, artificial intelligence, robotics and digital agriculture, the Prime Minister said.
She said that because of all this, the Serbian government has come to Shanghai with a large delegation, precisely to show that the two countries share the same economic vision of the 21st century, a vision of cooperation.
In that regard, Brnabic added, she was pleased that French President Emmanuel Macron also shares the same vision of connecting Europe and China, which is good news for Serbia as well.
The Prime Minister once again congratulated the hosts and President Xi on 70 years of China’s prosperity, and thanked for its support for Serbia’s economic development, cooperation, and openness to initiatives, ideas, products and friendships from Serbia.
She said it is a great honour for her to have the opportunity to participate, on behalf of Serbia, at the 2nd China International Import Fair in Shanghai.
Brnabic added that Serbia, as a friend, is closely watching and looking forward to the results China has achieved over the past decades, best seen in dynamic and strong economic growth, dramatic poverty reduction and investment in human resources.
After the opening ceremony, Brnabic toured the fairgrounds together with the leaders of other countries.