Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic on Nov. 7, said that the Chinese market is very important for Serbia, but that there are certain requirements that have to be fulfilled, primarily ensuring the quality, competitiveness and continual export of goods to the Chinese market.
“Compared to the previous year, Serbia has considerably intensified its trade with China and now it’s doubled: in nine months we’ve exported goods worth USD214 million, whereas the whole last year brought in USD92 million,” said Ljajic during his visit to the Serbian Economic Pavilion at the Second Chinese International Import-Export Fair in Shanghai, which was also visited by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
The minister added that if this trend continues, the Serbian export to China will come close to being worth USD250-300 million.
“This is why such fairs are important. This is an opportunity for us to bring our products closer to the big, but demanding Chinese market,” Ljajic explained. He added that Serbia’s participation in similar trade expositions will bring it closer to fulfilling its goal, which is constant increase of trade in goods and decrease in foreign trade deficit, as Serbia imports more goods from China than it export to this country.
Ljaljic underlined that Serbia has quality products to offer to China.
According to him, however, the basic problem - the delivery continuity - can be overcome by ensuring large quantities of goods, and that is why the focus should be on specific high-quality products that have little or no competition on the global market.
“Here we’ve seen some of those products that are being sold in this market and I’m sure that we’ll gradually expand the selection of products we offer and increase the quantity, while also ensuring continuity,” Ljajic said and added that Serbia needs a product that it will be known for.
He named truffles as an example, saying that it is not a product that sells too well in Serbia, but that a local company specialized in dealing with them can become a regional brand.
“We have to have a product we’ll be known for. The Czechs campaigned and now they’re known for the beer they export to China and the Italians for their wine. We’ve quite a number of wineries presented here, and perhaps this is our big chance, too; the export of wine has gone up this year,” the trade minister said.
Ljajic also pointed out that Serbia exports beech wood to China, which is our second export product, but that it would be more profitable to sell final products than raw materials.
“That’s why we have to focus on several products and rebrand those we’re already exporting, so that we’re finally recognized for one of them, which would then open the door for all other goods,” explained Ljajic, adding that given the fact that some half a million of buyers from all over the globe are expected to visit the fair, this is a good opportunity for Serbian enterprises.
He also pointed out that the number of Chinese tourists coming to Serbia is on the rise and that in nine months it has gone over 110,000. “If this trend continues, we’ll have more than 140,000 Chinese tourists in Serbia,” said Ljajic recalling that in 2016 there were only 18,000 visitors from that country.
According to the minister, Serbia will have over 300,000 night stays of Chinese tourists. “These numbers are encouraging and show that our campaign in China is yielding good results, and they indicate that there’s room for the number of Chinese tourists to rise even further in the coming years,” Ljajic said.
He pointed out that there are 140 million Chinese tourists traveling around the world yearly and that during those travels they spend USD277 billion, which is even more than the American tourists spend.
“This is a market very important for small tourist countries, which are becoming increasingly attractive, and if we continue with our campaign - and we’ve already signed a promotion agreement with Alibaba company - in addition to advertising on Chinese social media platforms, we can present Serbia to the Chinese tourists as a destination,” said Ljajic.