Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic says he has asked UAE for low-interest loan
A top Serbian official said on Thursday he had asked the UAE for a low-interest, long-term loan to repay some of the country's debts and invest in its ailing economy.
Serbia's economy is expected to grow about 2.5 percent this year, but is weighed down by a rising deficit of 4.7 percent of GDP and debt at 65 percent.
Belgrade is planning to tap markets with a $1 billion Eurobond this year and borrowing on the domestic market. It has also sought sovereign creditors including China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
"I have recently ... asked my friend, Sheikh Bin Zayed, for $2 billion or $3 billion, at the lowest interest rate, for 20 to 30 years," Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in a TV broadcast, referring to the UAE's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.
Vucic, also head of the Serbian Progressive Party, the senior member in the nationalist-socialist coalition, did not say whether Bin Zayed had agreed to a loan.
Serbia secured a 400 million-euro loan from the UAE earlier this year to invest in agriculture and last month the wealthy Gulf state's Etihad airline purchased a 49 percent stake in Serbia's indebted Jat Airways.
To lure investors, Serbia must seek a new loan deal with the IMF. The lender froze a previous 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion) deal early last year over broken spending promises.
Vucic said Serbia planned to limit its borrowing in the future to "to halt its debt at the level of between 70 and 75 percent of GDP".
"We would use a billion from that (the UAE's) money to repay the most difficult debts, we would therefore lighten our public debt and I believe the IMF would support that, while the rest will be invested in our economy," he said.