New driv­ers urged for China-CEEC trade

Call for more small and medium-sized en­ter­prises, in­dus­trial parks and lo­cal gov­ern­ment ex­changes

China Daily European Weekly - - News Digest - By HU YONGQI huy­ongqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Think tanks from Cen­tral and Eastern Euro­pean coun­tries met with their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts in Bei­jing to con­trib­ute their thoughts on how to pro­mote China-CEEC co­op­er­a­tion in trade and align­ment with the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

About 300 re­searchers, of­fi­cials and jour­nal­ists from China and 16 CEE na­tions at­tended the two-day, fourth High-Level Sym­po­sium of Think Tanks of China and Cen­tral and Eastern Euro­pean Coun­tries, which was hosted by the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences.

At the sym­po­sium’s open­ing cer­e­mony on Dec 18, Vice-For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Chao called for ac­cel­er­at­ing the build­ing of the China-Europe land-sea ex­press line, ex­pand­ing trade and pro­mot­ing in­vest­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tion in ef­forts to boost trade by im­prov­ing trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture in the re­gion.

He said new growth driv­ers should be de­vel­oped in ar­eas such as small and medium-sized en­ter­prises, in­dus­trial parks and ex­changes of lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

In the first nine months of the year, China-CEEC trade vol­ume hit $49 bil­lion (41.4 bil­lion eu­ros; £36.6 bil­lion), a year-on-year in­crease of 14 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms. As of Oc­to­ber, China’s ac­cu­mu­la­tive in­vest­ments in the re­gion reached $9 bil­lion.

China and the 16 CEE na­tions signed 40 agree­ments to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion in a range of fields in­clud­ing fi­nance dur­ing the sixth Meet­ing of Heads of Gov­ern­ment of China-Cen­tral and Eastern Euro­pean Coun­tries in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary, said Wang.

Cai Fang, vice-pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, said China can achieve about 6.8 per­cent eco­nomic growth this year, and China’s goal for the GDP in 2020 to be dou­ble that of 2010 can be achieved as long as the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy grows by about 6.4 per­cent year-on-year in the next three years.

“We would like to see CEE na­tions share the ben­e­fits of China’s de­vel­op­ment,” Vice-Min­is­ter Wang said.

Chen Dawei, vice-pres­i­dent of the China-EU As­so­ci­a­tion, said key ar­eas of China-CEEC co­op­er­a­tion, also known as the “16+1” mech­a­nism, should be high­ways, rail­ways, air­ports and ports, in ad­di­tion to co­op­er­a­tion in new en­ergy and nu­clear power gen­er­a­tion. The im­prove­ment of trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture in CEE na­tions will be good for the Euro­pean Union, he said.

Ex­perts say CEE na­tions also want to ex­port more agri­cul­tural goods to China and at­tract more tourists and in­vest­ment from the coun­try.

Bul­garia will hold the ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency of the EU in the first half of next year and will also host the sev­enth Meet­ing of Heads of Gov­ern­ment of China-CEEC next year.

Valentin Ka­tran­jiev, chief ex­pert of the train­ing and re­search projects de­part­ment at the Diplo­matic In­sti­tute of the Bul­gar­ian For­eign Min­istry, said Bul­garia can take a big­ger share in the Chi­nese mar­ket with its ad­van­tages in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, in­clud­ing world-fa­mous rose-re­lated prod­ucts.

Bul­garia also should work with China on in­no­va­tions to bring added value, in ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional ar­eas such as rail­ways, high­ways and lo­gis­tics cen­ters, he said.

Tourism can also be a good area, since it is es­ti­mated that by 2020, 2 mil­lion trips will be made be­tween China and CEE na­tions, Vice-Min­is­ter Wang said.

Last month, China signed a visafree agree­ment with the Balkan coun­try Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina. Amel Ko­vace­vic, head of re­tail bank­ing at Bosna Bank In­ter­na­tional who has been trav­el­ing be­tween his coun­try and China since 2010, said more Chi­nese vis­i­tors are wel­come to visit the coun­try.

Also in Bu­dapest, Es­to­nia, Lithua­nia and Slove­nia signed mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ing to pro­mote the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, sig­nal­ing that all 16 CEE na­tions have agreed to work un­der the ini­tia­tive.

China-CEEC co­op­er­a­tion is a cross-re­gional plat­form, born against the back­drop of ris­ing glob­al­iza­tion, and will be ben­e­fi­cial to par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries and Chi­naEurope co­op­er­a­tion, Wang said.

Ka­tran­jiev said “16+1” co­op­er­a­tion is ben­e­fi­cial to CEE coun­tries in so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and helps to bridge the eco­nomic dif­fer­ence be­tween Eastern and Western Europe.

“Peo­ple in south­east­ern Europe be­lieve the “16+1” mech­a­nism is not a threat to the EU in­tegrity, but rather it helps to strengthen EU unity and speed up our in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion,” Ka­tran­jiev said.

HU YONGQI / CHINA DAILY

About 300 re­searchers, of­fi­cials and jour­nal­ists from China and 16 CEE na­tions at­tended the two-day, fourth High-Level Sym­po­sium of Think Tanks of China and Cen­tral and Eastern Euro­pean Coun­tries from Dec 18 to 19.

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