BELGRADE, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday there was a possibility of an export quota being agreed with Russia for Fiat cars manufactured in Serbia.
The Fiat plant in the central Serbian town of Kragujevac, a 1-billion-euro joint venture 67 percent owned by Italian automaker Fiat and 33 percent by the Serbian state, began producing Fiat’s 500L family of compact cars in July 2012.
Its main export markets are the European Union and United States. Exports to Russia have been made difficult because of high customs duties given that a free trade agreement between Serbia and Russia excludes automobiles.
Serbia had asked in the past to include cars in the free trade agreement to make cars made in Serbia more competitive in the Russian market, but the request had not been granted.
During a visit to Belgrade by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vucic said: “Good news for the people of Serbia....We will have a certain possibility to export a quota of Fiat (cars).”
“That will mean a lot for the preservation of jobs,” Vucic said
Vucic gave no further details on the size of the potential quota or whether cars would be included in the existing free trade agreement.
“Taking into account our good ties with Italy we could agree over export quotas to Russia,” Putin said at the beginning of his meeting with Vucic.
The move could provide a big boost for Serbia’s ailing economy, which is driven in large part by Fiat exports.
Last month the Fiat plant in Kragujevac halted production for several days to adjust to weak demand in the European market. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)