China, central and eastern Europe share rosy development prospects
Data from the expo's organizer showed that the five-day event saw over 10.5 billion yuan (about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars) of intent purchase orders signed for imports from the CEECs. Around 81 percent of exhibitors from these countries have confirmed their attendance at the next expo.
Also inked at the event are 62 foreign-funded projects with a total investment of 17.78 billion U.S. dollars. Seventeen projects involve "Fortune 500" companies and industry leaders, covering high-end equipment manufacturing, biomedicine, and the digital economy.
Officials and analysts say China's economic and trade ties with the CEECs are achieving win-win outcomes, buoyed by a mutual enthusiasm for cooperation.
China's trade with the CEECs has grown at an average annual rate of 8.1 percent since 2012, official data showed. Two-way trade reached 33.3 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter, up 1.6 percent from a year earlier in a steady and positive start.
"China has become a key trading partner and source of imports for the CEECs since the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism launched in 2012," said Yu Yuantang, an official with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
He pointed out that goods traded between China and the CEECs mostly have high added value, such as mechanical and electrical products.
Large joint projects between the two sides are also in full swing. Opened in March 2022, the Belgrade to Novi Sad (Beno) section of the Chinese-built Hungary-Serbia railway handled over 2.93 million passenger trips in its inaugural year. Cooperation between China's COSCO Shipping and Greece's largest port Piraeus since 2010 was dubbed by locals an exemplary case of win-win cooperation.
With the Chinese investment, new jobs were created, giving a massive boost, especially to the port's surrounding area, said Antonis Apergis, the superintendent of the engineering department of COSCO subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal S.A.
"The commitment to enhancing friendship and seeking common development, as well as the firm belief that openness creates opportunities, are the driving forces behind robust economic and trade cooperation between China and the CEECs," said Liu Zuokui, deputy director of the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Exhibitors and participants of the event are particularly impressed by the vast opportunities offered through further cooperation. China announced plans in 2021 to import 170 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods from the CEECs, double CEECs agricultural exports to China and raise two-way agricultural trade by 50 percent within five years.
China has worked to optimize the business environment, facilitating bilateral travel and helping present products from the CEECs at other Chinese trade expos.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and other CEECs have become pivotal destinations for China-Europe freight trains, which took 5,611 trips in the first four months of 2023 with a year-on-year increase of 17 percent.
The MOC said the second list of products under the China-European Union agreement on geographical indications has been unveiled, providing authentication for 350 more products from both sides. Krokos Kozanis, a Greek saffron on the list, was showcased at the expo.
"With the potential of the Chinese market and the geographical advantages of the CEECs, future efforts will concentrate on expanding cooperation in green, digital, and health sectors to promote the sustainable growth of trade between China and the CEECs," said Yu with the MOC.