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The adverse economic environment of the past few years had a negative impact on the cooperation between Russia and Serbia, with the current trade turnover still below the 2013 level. Despite that, bilateral trade has been gaining momentum as of recently, with the Russian companies continuing to make investments in new projects and exploring business opportunities in Serbia. The traditionally firm political ties between the two countries make it possible to unlock the potential of economic cooperation and take it to a brand new level.
In these new conditions, Serbian imports were the driving force behind the economic collaboration build-up, as they went up by 12.8% in 2016 and 29.5% year-to-date.
The primary Russian exports to Serbia are oil and petroleum products (35%) and rolling stock (11.15%). The respective industries also attract the largest number of investments from the Russian businesses.
For example, after acquiring a controlling stake in Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS), Gazprom Neft turned a loss-making company into the Serbian economic powerhouse and one of the country's major taxpayers.
In the near future, Serbia plans to significantly increase its gas imports, with Russia being the most obvious choice for a trade partner.
The strategic location of Serbia at the crossroads of South Europe makes its road and transportation infrastructure an attractive investment target for Russian businesses.
Vladimir Putin and Aleksandar Vučić have met recently to discuss high-potential production projects in mechanical engineering, agriculture and pharmaceuticals with an eye to exporting the manufactured goods to third-party countries.