Sasa Dragojlo, Belgrade, BIRN, September 16, 202011:33

US investment institutions have signed non-binding contracts with Serbia and Kosovo on building a so-called ‘Peace Highway’ – the first fruit of the US-brokered economic normalization deal signed in Washington on September 4.

The US International Development Finance Corporation, DFC, and the US Export-Import Bank, EXIM, signed Letters of Intent on Tuesday with Serbia and Kosovo on building a new motorway between them in the first concrete move made by the US after it brokered an Economic Normalization agreement between the two countries in the White House on September 4.

The new so-called Peace Highway would connect Nis in south-central Serbia and Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. “The Peace Highway will drive economic development and regional integration by connecting Nis and Pristina. It will also serve as a powerful symbol of the new, transformative relationship between these neighboring countries,” the CEO of the DFC, Adam Boehler, said.

The US created the DFC in December 2019 as a new economic soft power tool as American rivalry hots up with China. It is focused on investing in low and medium income countries.

The official statement said the DFC and the Export-Import Bank would send delegations to Belgrade and Pristina later this month to advance work on the new Peace Highway and on other projects.

The DFC also announced that it would “lay the groundwork for opening its first office in the region”, which was also agreed in Washington. It is likely to be based in Belgrade, Serbia.

“The Peace Highway is an important step toward economic cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina, and I commend the work of President Trump and the entire administration on this historic agreement,” said EXIM Chairman Kimberly A. Reed.

“The Export-Import Bank of the United States is committed to supporting projects that both advance economic development and employment in the region, and support American exports and workers,” Reed added.

The letters signed on Tuesday are non-binding and will be followed by standard due diligence conducted by both agencies before financing is formally committed, the DFC official statement said.