A U.S.-sponsored pact signed last week to normalize economic relations between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo will only succeed if it is followed by significant U.S. funding and persistent American and European nurturing, say politicians and business people on the ground.
The agreement, hailed by President Trump as historic when it was signed in the Oval Office, comes after bloody clashes that prompted a U.S.-led intervention in 1999 that resulted in Kosovo declaring independence in 2008.
The implementation, however, rests on the promise of cheap U.S. loans and development aid aimed at unlocking private investment and spurring growth by financing strategic infrastructure projects and businesses, according to politicians, entrepreneurs and analysts in the region.
While the agreement on Sept. 4 didn’t spell out the total amount of loans and investment, U.S. state-funded lenders and aid agencies—the International Development Finance Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the Millennium Challenge Corporation—are expected to provide several hundred million dollars in financing for the region in the short term, according to negotiators. The Kosovo government said it expected over $2 billion in financing.
Projects include highways, railways and power plants, as well as support for small and medium-size companies in both countries, according to the text of the agreement.