CEOL - Serbia lost $3.7 bln in Nato war, looks East for aid

BELGRADE, Dec 22, 1999 -- (Reuters) Serbia said on Tuesday its economy had lost $3.7 billion because of NATO's 11-week air war earlier this year, and planned to turn east for aid as western countries refused to assist in its reconstruction.

"Losses in gross domestic product due to NATO aggression only in this year are estimated at $3.7 billion," Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic told the Serbian parliament, presenting the results of this year's economic policy and targets for 2000. Despite the losses, Serbia was recovering successfully in the second half of the year and will continue to do so in 2000, he said.

At the beginning of 1990s, per capita income in Yugoslavia was $3,000. Per capita income in 1999 is estimated at $1,100.

Marjanovic's cabinet offered more reconstruction and reform in the next year, along with economic stability and significant growth in industry and exports.

Serbia's GDP is targeted to rise 14 percent, industrial production 15 percent and exports 28 percent.

Along with reforms, which include privatization and changes in the banking and financial systems, Marjanovic said ties with the outside world will be a must next year. "Economic ties with the world are imperative in the next and coming years... Economic relations will be intensified with Russia, China, Balkan countries and third world countries."

Yugoslavia is subject to a set of economic, financial, flight and oil embargoes sponsored by the European Union and the United States.

After NATO's March-to-June bombing campaign, western countries said they would not allow any post-war aid as long as President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power.

They later allowed some humanitarian assistance to ease hardships of ordinary Serbs as the harsh Balkan winter set in.

Belgrade was expelled from world lending agencies in 1992 for its role in the Bosnian war.

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