Chinese Investments in the Balkans

The Chinese are considering a number of large investment projects in the infrastructure of the Balkan countries. The main subject of their interest in Slovenia is the port of Luka Koper, but the local government has already declared that the port is not available for sale. In addition, China is considering the purchase of the Maribor Aerodrom.

China is Committed to Central Europe

Beijing is tighter interested in the prospects of capital investments in Europe through both buying European companies and creating the “New Silk Road”. In such a way, China seeks to strengthen its ties with the Middle East and Europe. The Chinese investors believe that the Maritime Silk Road, which runs through the northern Adriatic, will save 15–20 days for the freight of goods as compared to the ports of the North Sea. China has repeatedly expressed its interest in buying Luka Koper during the official visits to Slovenia and in the meetings with officials of the Central and South-Eastern Europe in the format of 16+1. The position of the Slovenian Government is unequivocal: Luka Koper is not for sale.

For the Slovenian port of Luka Koper, China is one of the most important partners. In 2015, nearly 1 million tons of goods was transported from here to China.

The Chinese are interested in other large projects in Slovenia, such as the construction of the second power-generating unit of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant and the new railway road Divača-Koper. This year, the representatives of the Chinese Development Bank and the construction company China Gezhouba Group visited the port of Luka Koper and the Ministry of Infrastructure. They noted that they could build the second branch of the railway road in less than 3 years.

The position of the Slovenian government is that, under the EU law, partners and co-investors will be determined during the open tender, which can be attended by everyone, including the Chinese side.

At the moment, the Chinese companies have modest statistics of investments in Slovenia. According to the Bank of Slovenia, at the end of the first half of 2016, the Chinese capital in the Slovenian economy amounted to 10.2 million euros. The Chinese company is a co-owner of the Elaphe, another Chinese investment project—a manufacturer of Tam Durabus buses. In addition, the Chinese wanted to build a battery factory in Maribor, but this venture ended in vain.

Another goal of the Chinese side is the Maribor Aerodrom. The trade union is not against the sale of the company. According to unofficial information, the purchase price will amount to about 7 million euros. The deal could be completed before the end of this year.