Belgium's ABEE seals $44 million battery plant deal in North Macedonia

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Belgium's Avesta Battery and Energy Engineering (ABEE) on Monday signed a contract with North Macedonia to build a factory for the production of electric batteries for cars, the government said.

The total investment will amount to 40 million euros ($44 million) and 600 jobs will be created in the trade zone of Kicevo, the government said in a statement on its website.

"This will mean a reduction in migration and the opening of new, highly qualified and highly paid jobs, not only for the local population but also for the entire country," Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi said during the signing ceremony in Brussels.

The impoverished Balkan country, which has begun accession negotiations with the European Union, badly needs new investment to stop an outflow of workers.

In the Kicevo project, ABEE will focus on the development and production of Battery Management Systems (BMS) and power electronics systems, the statement said.

Production is expected to begin in 2024 and have a production capacity of 300,000 units per year.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by Jason Neely)