China, CEECs gear up for closer economic, trade ties

Updated: May 19, 2023 Xinhua Print
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NINGBO - Since the founding of the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) cooperation mechanism in 2012, China and CEECs have yielded fruitful achievements. 2023 marks the beginning of the second decade of China-CEEC cooperation, and the two sides hope for closer economic and trade ties.

As a platform mirroring the two sides' trade ties, the third China-CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair has attracted over 400 exhibitors from CEECs and other European countries. Purchase orders worth over 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) for CEEC products are expected during the five-day event, which will conclude on Saturday in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo.

At the expo's first signing ceremony for business deals on Tuesday, 10 import deals and five cooperation programs with a total value of 2.18 billion yuan were inked. The contracts cover a wide range of agri-products, such as meat and dairy, and other consumer goods, such as sports utilities and health products.

Of the deals, Ningbo Lianbang Changyun International Trading Co Ltd placed an order worth 100 million yuan for beef from a Hungarian company. "My company will also purchase Polish milk, Hungarian wines, and other CEEC products to enrich Chinese consumers' tables," said Sun Chonglong, executive director of the Chinese company.

As the guest country of honor, Hungary has 35 companies participating in the expo. "With an increasing number of Hungarian enterprises recognizing the immense opportunities available in China, their participation in the expo demonstrates a solid commitment to fostering economic and trade ties between the two countries," said Zsanett Ihasz, manager of Chinese relations at the Hungarian Export Promotion Agency.

With the country pavilion and the dedicated business delegation, the agency is committed to establishing and reinforcing alliances with Chinese firms, exploring untapped business prospects, and advancing the export of Hungarian goods and services, Ihasz said.

"The China-CEEC cooperation has been deepening over the years. Polish milk and cookies have gradually entered the daily life of Chinese consumers through the expo," said Andrzej Juchniewicz, chief representative of the Polish investment and trade agency in China. "We hope to bring more quality products to China and expand the market share in gaming, science and technology, and medicine."

Data showed that since 2012, China's trade with CEECs has grown at an average annual rate of 8.1 percent, and China's imports from CEECs have increased at an average rate of 9.2 percent annually. In the first quarter of this year, two-way trade totaled $33.3 billion, up 1.6 percent year-on-year.

The expo also offers a broad platform for China-CEEC investment projects.

"TCL has cooperated with CEECs for many years," said Li Dongsheng, chairman of the Chinese consumer electronics giant TCL. Li said TCL has invested in a factory and an EU R&D center in Poland, and it produces more than 3 million TVs a year.

"The launch of the China-Europe freight trains has greatly improved the efficiency of the supply chain and enhanced the competitiveness of our products in the European market. We are planning to build a second factory in CEECs," Li said.

So far, the two-way investment between China and CEECs has reached nearly $20 billion. In the first quarter of this year, China's direct investment in CEECs increased by 148 percent year-on-year, covering various fields like auto parts, home appliances, medicine, logistics, energy, and minerals.

Zhejiang Huashuo Technology Co Ltd, a Chinese high-tech enterprise integrating R&D and manufacturing of new energy vehicles' core components, has offices in Europe.

Zhang Taixin, general manager of the company's Hungarian branch, said it began constructing a factory in Hungary's Debrecen in April last year. The first phase was completed in February this year and has started trial operations. "Hungary welcomes investment from Asia. We are confident in the European market," said Zhang.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina has broad prospects for cooperation with China and other CEECs in energy, infrastructure, green economic transformation, and clean energy. We envision more cooperation projects in the future," said Zdravko Marinkovic, president of the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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