China’s Cooperation with CEE Countries Upgraded
In the first four months of this year, China-CEEC bilateral trade totaled US$40.71 billion, a year-on-year increase of 47.9%
In February of this year, President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the China-CEEC Summit via video link, emphasizing that China is ready to respond to the call of our times with CEE countries to deliver higher levels of common development and mutual benefit for all and work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
With the joint efforts of all relevant parties, the results of the summit are being implemented. From trade to agricultural cooperation to green development, China and CEE countries are looking for opportunities in the face of challenges, innovating models while exploring, and opening up a broad space for cooperation. The cooperation between China and CEE countries has entered a new stage of quality improvement and upgrading, and is ushering in a brighter prospect.
Trade Transactions Hit a New High
“Since last year, orders from CEE countries have increased rapidly. At present, CEE countries are the company’s third-largest source of buyers,” said Lei Yanzhao, general manager of SINOCONVE BELT CO., LTD. in Ningbo, in the 2nd China-CEEC Expo held recently. He mentioned that in March last year, a mining dealer in Pitesti, a southern city in Romania, ordered a batch of rubber industrial belts, and he ordered 10 times more than that of the previous one in February this year.
The digital economy and cross-border e-commerce have played a huge role in promoting trade between China and CEE countries. Mario Rendulić, Chairman of the Chinese Southeast European Business Association (CSEBA), said: “CEE countries and China have carried out fruitful cooperation in the field of commerce and trade. China has vigorously promoted international cooperation and carried out sustainable win-win projects to help CEE companies enter the Chinese market, bringing opportunities for all countries to work together for mutual benefit in the post-epidemic era.”
The direct cargo air route was launched in May this year to link Zhengzhou with Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The route operates 5 flights a week, with a cargo volume of 17 tons per flight. The truck distribution network centered in Budapest was opened at the same time, covering many countries in Eastern Europe. Compared with the previous transshipment model, the overall logistics timeliness is increased by 20%, and the cost is reduced by 5%.
“The Zhengzhou-Budapest route provides a more convenient channel for the trade between the two places. The airports of Budapest and Zhengzhou are becoming the air cargo hubs between CEE countries and China.” Chris Dinsdale, CEO of Budapest Airport said that the digital economy is an important engine of economic growth. CEE countries hope to learn from China’s advanced e-commerce experience, cultivate and develop their digital economy industry, and further provide assistance for bilateral trade.
In 2020, the trade volume between China and CEE countries exceeded US$100 billion for the first time, with a year-on-year increase of 8.4%. “China proposes to import commodities worth more than 170 billion U.S. dollars from CEE countries in the next five years. This will bring important opportunities for CEE countries to get out of the shadow of the epidemic and resume economic development.” said Guralczyk, a professor at the Center for European at the University of Warsaw.
According to China’s customs data, in the first four months of this year, the total bilateral trade between China and CEE countries was US$40.71 billion, with an increase of 47.9% over the same period in 2020. The China-CEEC trade composite index was 273.80 points, with a year-on-year increase of 28.6%, and China’s import and export trade with CEE countries continued to grow steadily.
Great potential for agricultural cooperation
In the Rose Valley in Kazanlak, Bulgaria, roses are in full bloom in May and June every year. Affected by the epidemic, Bulgaria’s rose production has been reduced by nearly 40%, and many flower farmers are facing unprecedented difficulties. In the case of poor consumption in the traditional European market, the local rose industry has set its sights on China.
“In the past year, the number of Bulgarian rose products sold to China through e-commerce platforms has increased significantly. Our rose products have been welcomed by Chinese consumers, which is undoubtedly good news for Bulgarian flower farmers and the rose industry,” said Christo Nikolov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Rose Growers Association.
Agricultural cooperation is one of the earliest cooperation contents established by the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism. CEE countries have high-quality agricultural resources and hope to cooperate with China to promote trade in agricultural products, promote investment in the agricultural sector, and strengthen exchanges of agricultural technology. In the nine years since the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism was launched, the average annual growth of imports of agricultural products from CEE countries is about 9.7%. Up to now, China has signed 95 customs inspection and quarantine cooperation documents with CEE countries, involving 15 countries, and has approved the export of 132 foods and dozens of agricultural products from 14 countries to China. Czech beer, Bulgarian yogurt, Greek olive oil…more and more agricultural products from CEE countries are entering the homes of ordinary Chinese people.
On March 1 this year, the China-EU Geographical Indications Agreement formally entered into force. Famous and high-quality agricultural products of CEE countries such as Estonian whiskey, Slovenian honey, and Polish Grójec apples were included in the first batch of protected geographical indications, injecting impetus into the agricultural cooperation of CEE countries.
Poland is a major agricultural country and a major brewing country in Europe. Its vodka production ranks first in the EU and fourth in the world. “The Chinese market has huge development potential. The formal entry into force of the China-EU Geographical Indications Agreement is a rare opportunity for Polish vodka producers. The entire industry is full of expectations for the Chinese market.” said Anjey Szumowski, chairman of the Polish Vodka Association.
At present, China Customs and the counterpart departments of CEE countries are strengthening cooperation to speed up the process of importing agricultural and food products from Central and Eastern Europe to China, and actively promote the realization of the goal of “doubling China’s agricultural imports from CEE countries and increasing the agricultural trade volume of both sides by 50% in the next five years.” The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China will explore the construction of wholesale markets for CEE agricultural products, support the construction of agricultural industrial parks in CEE countries, and explore cooperation in agricultural human resources, so as to promote the development of agricultural economic and trade cooperation between China and CEE countries to a higher level and higher quality.
Green Development Adds Momentum
On May 27th, the 100MW Photovoltaic Power Station project in Kaposvár, the largest photovoltaic power station in Hungary, was officially launched and put into operation. The photovoltaic power station is invested and constructed by China National Machinery Import and Export (Group) Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China General Technology Group. After being connected to the grid, it is expected to generate 130 million kWh per year, saving 45,000 tons of standard coal, and reducing 120,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Green industry cooperation between China and CEE countries ushered in a new important node.
Kaposvár mayor Kalori said that the Kaposvág Photovoltaic Power Station project is a model of Hungary-China clean energy cooperation and a new green business card for Kaposvág. Hungary is currently facing the task of energy transformation, and the cooperation with China is truly mutually beneficial and in line with the development interests of the two countries.
In recent years, many Chinese companies have actively participated in the energy transformation of CEE countries, and have built a good reputation in Central and Eastern Europe. A large number of green, low-carbon, ecological, and environmentally friendly clean energy projects that benefit the people are progressing smoothly.
According to the China-CEEC Energy Cooperation Report released by the China Electric Power Planning and Design Institute last year, since 2021, Chinese companies have invested more than 4 billion euros in wind power, photovoltaic and other fields in Central and Eastern Europe. China’s new energy vehicles, lithium battery and component manufacturers have set up factories in CEE countries and integrated them into the European new energy automobile industry chain. A series of key energy cooperation projects such as the Dabar Hydropower Station in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Pančevo Combined Cycle Power Station in Serbia have been completed, put into operation, or started construction, bringing huge economic and environmental benefits to the local area and improving local people’s livelihood and well-being.
Montenegro is the lead country of the China-CEEC environmental protection cooperation mechanism. Key projects such as the Mozura Wind Power Station and the first phase of the ecological transformation of the Prevlia Thermal Power Station undertaken by Chinese companies in Montenegro have enabled Montenegro to take the lead in the development of clean energy and the transformation of traditional energy in Central and Eastern Europe. Dragica Sekulic, former Minister of Economy of Montenegro, stated that Montenegro is rich in renewable energy and has great potential for development. The cooperation between China and Montenegro in the field of clean energy has made important contributions to the realization of a stable power supply in Montenegro, explored new ways for the protection of the ecological environment in Montenegro, and brought visible changes and opportunities for local development.
2021 is the year of China-CEEC cooperation in green development and environmental protection. Guided by sharing new opportunities for green development, the two parties will deepen cooperation in the fields of green economy and clean energy, expand the joint development of clean energy such as wind energy and solar energy, and add green momentum to China-CEEC cooperation.