Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (C) inspects the HBIS Group Serbia in Smederevo, Serbia, on July 5, 2018. The rebirth of Smederevo steel plant, Serbia's biggest steel producer, in two years has told "a story about changes, story about success, and story about progress" in Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said here Thursday during the second anniversary of the HBIS's takeover of the plant. (Xinhua/Wang Huijuan)
SMEDEREVO, Serbia, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The rebirth of Smederevo steel plant, Serbia's biggest steel producer, in two years has told "a story about changes, story about success, and story about progress" in Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said here Thursday.
Accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang and Director of HBIS Serbia Song Sihai, Vucic inspected the steel mill where he was welcomed by hundreds of employees. They were celebrating the second anniversary of the HBIS's takeover of the plant.
Founded in 1913, Smederevo steel factory contributed 40 percent of Smederevo's government revenue when it was at full capacity.
On April 18, 2016, the Serbian government signed a deal with HBIS Group, China's largest and the world's second-largest steel and iron producer, to sell Smederevo steel for 46 million euros (53.8 million U.S. dollars). The factory was then renamed Hesteel Serbia. The Serbian government announced the official takeover of the mill on July 1, 2016.
Vucic thanked workers for the effort they invested to meet the demands and help the business goals of the new owner and stressed the importance of the HBIS steel plant for the economy of the municipality of Smederevo and Serbia.
"Smederevo profits 420 million RSD or some 3.7-3.8 million euros per year. Literally the city administration and all communal projects live from the steel plant. You, workers, are the ones that give the key contribution to your city. This is why the life in Smederevo will get better, gradually, from year to year," Vucic told employees who welcomed him at the entrance gate.
After touring the hot rolling mill together with Ambassador Li, Vucic said that the employees are satisfied with their work and that they told him about feeling the certainty and the hope for the future, while on the other hand this brought the company a great success.
"I would say, two years after the Chinese company became the owner of the Smederevo steel plant, this became a story about changes in Serbia, story about Serbia's success, the story about Serbia's progress," the president said.
"This is the second biggest exporting company in Serbia, and I am certain that in two years it will become the strongest company judging by the level of production," Vucic said.
As part of the celebration, the management awarded the most innovative teams of workers that contributed to the efficiency of the production and with their ideas reduced production cost.
Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Director Song Sihai said that the company managed to secure steady jobs for 5,000 employees and create 200 new jobs every year for young people.
According to Song, HBIS Serbia produced steel worth 750 million U.S. dollars each year, and paid 39 U.S. million dollars of taxes to Serbia. It also invested 158 million euros (184.7 million U.S. dollars) for improvements in technology and equipments.
"This year we hope to produce 1.8 million tons of steel, which will represent a historic record for the steel plant in Smederevo. We plan to have revenue of 1 billion U.S. dollars this year. Having in mind the results for the first half of the year, the goal seems completely reachable," Song said.