December 18, 2017 / 11:32 AM / 9 months ago

Serbia's Smederevo steel mill boosts revenue -statement

BELGRADE, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Serbian steelmaker Zelezara Smederevo has boosted production and revenue in 2017, the office of the country's president said on Monday.

Hesteel, China's biggest steelmaker, last year paid 46 million euros to take over the then loss-making plant, pledging to preserve its 5,050 jobs and invest $300 million.

In 2017 revenue rose to $750 million from $433 million a year earlier, the statement from the office of President Aleksandar Vucic said, adding that there had been investments of $160 million.

Production stood at 1.5 million tonnes of crude steel and that is set to rise to 1.8 million next year, said the statement, which was released after a meeting between Vucic and company chairman Yu Yong.

The plant has a maximum capacity of 2.2 million tonnes.

Beijing sees Serbia as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative, which is aimed at opening new foreign trade links for Chinese companies.

China has invested over $1 billion in the Balkan country - a European Union membership candidate - mostly in soft loans, infrastructure and energy projects.

$1 = 0.8481 euros Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; editing by Jason Neely

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