Serbian FDI up through March; Serb Prez Vucic regrets barriers to mining

Serbia continues to beat expectations, despite global instability and the war in Ukraine, with a new high with regard to early year FDI totalling approximately EUR 692 mln—yet this is not without some regrets, according to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

“As of March 20, Serbia has received EUR 692 mln in foreign direct investment, our best result thus far,” said Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, as quoted by the news site B92.

Yet Vucic said he regrets Serbian resistance to lithium mining, as he believes this could prompt rapid economic growth.

“I am the only one who openly says that we made a mistake with to lithium [mining],’ he said. “I still say we made a mistake–we could have forced mining companies to work to the highest standards and Serbia would have flourished.

Lithium mining has been a flash point in Serbia, with environmental groups protesting the dangers of ecological damage. Serbia has also in the past faced off with Rio Tinto in a start-stop relationship over permitting, and the government has revoked approximately EUR 2.4 bln in licensing since 2022. A recent story by the news investigative site, Balkan Insight, claimed that the company has spent EUR 1 mln on a closed location already this year, and that the spectre of a national referendum could put all plans under threat.

The site noted that Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic sees “no way back” on the Rio Tinto Jadar mine, although the company has reportedly “not given up.”

For Vucic’s part, he claimed that even if Serbia suddenly reversed course that it would have lost potentially five years of development, and that much still needs to be done to achieve GDP 2.5 percent growth in order to catch up with prospering EU countries.

Photo by Guelland/ MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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