Chinese tire manufacturer Linglong on Saturday officially started the construction of its European factory in the industrial zone of the Serbian city of Zrenjanin.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Chairman of Shandong Linglong Tire Co., Ltd. Wang Feng laid the foundation in front of Mayor of Zrenjanin Cedomir Janjic and Ambassador of China to Serbia Chen Bo as well as hundreds of guests.

Janjic said that this is a big day for Zrenjanin and the whole Serbia, because “with this factory nothing will stay the same and Zrenjanin will once again rise as one of industrial leaders of Serbia”.

Vucic pointed out that the arrival of Linglong was a result of long negotiations, and that Serbia owes this success to the support of China and its President Xi Jinping.

“This project is not only about opening of 1,200 new jobs, and it is not only the absolutely biggest investment in Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina summing up to 1 billion USD or more than 800 million euro, it is also important because Zrenjanin will have more money to invest in the modernisation of the city and its surroundings, to build a network of roads, as well as new theaters,” he said.

The president also expected this investment to improve the living standard of all citizens of Serbia through the increase of salaries and pensions, and then attract more Chinese investors to Zrenjanin’s industrial zone.

Wang explained why the company chose Serbia to build its “first-class, smart factory”, attributing the choice to Serbia’s comprehensive strategic partnership with China and the participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as Serbia’s “excellent environment for investment and development”.

“This is the second overseas project for Linglong, and the first project of Chinese tire company in Europe. We are investing 990 million USD and creating 1,200 new jobs. After the completion of the project, the annual revenue will reach 600 million USD,” said Wang.

Wang thanked President Vucic and Serbian government for their support, which enabled them to set up their project quickly and smoothly. He also expressed his firm belief that the opening of Linglong’s European factory in Zrenjanin will help further development of relations between the two countries.

“I wish to address from this place to our partners in areas of raw materials and equipment, and ask them to consider coming to Serbia, to this wonderful country and investing here, so we can develop here together, side-by-side,” he said.

Ambassador Chen Bo underlined that this is yet another great success of the cooperation between China and Serbia under the Belt and Road Initiative.

“From the Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway project, HBIS steel mill in the City of Smederevo, Zijin Copper Mine in the City of Bor to the Linglong tire factory, the rich results of the bilateral cooperation bring benefits to people of both countries,” she concluded.