China steps up automotive investments in Serbia

Car bodies on the production line inside automobile factory

Chinese automotive parts manufacturer Yanfeng Automotive Interiors has opened its first plant in Kragujevac, central Serbia, aiming to employ 200 workers in the initial phase and up to 800 workers in the long term as a new employer in the Western Balkans.

“With this new plant in Serbia, we are expanding our manufacturing capacity in Eastern Europe’s growth markets and responding to our customers’ increasing presence in the region,” said Tony Elenbaas, the vice president and general manager for Europe and Africa at Yanfeng.

“The factory we are opening today was built in less than 10 months. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the process, and we owe a special thanks to the President of Serbia. This is the first large Chinese company in Kragujevac,” wrote the Serbian Monitor, quoting Kragujevac mayor Radomir Nikolić.

The opening of the Yanfeng plant in Serbia’s Šumadija district follows the decision of Xingyu, another Chinese car parts manufacturer to build a factory in Niš , Serbia’s third largest city.

Xingyu’s factory will be built from an investment of 50 million euros in the Niš Industrial Zone. Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2020.

Expected to employ around 1,000 people, the plant will produce LED lighting for major car manufacturers such as BMW, Volkswagen, Renault and Audi.

According to Raiffeisen Banka Serbia, Serbia has attracted 56 per cent of all Chinese investments in Central and Southeastern Europe between 2014 and 2018. China’s share in Serbia’s total FDI grew to 20.3 per cent in 2018, up from six per cent in 2017, with Chinese investment and construction contracts in Serbia amounting to 8.5 billion US dollars since the start of the Belt and Road Initiative.