China-CEEC Economic Relations Are Getting Closer
Aerial photo taken on June 8, 2021 shows the main venue of the 2nd China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Expo in Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang Province. (Photo by Xinhua/Jiang Han)

Bucking a global downturn, trade between China and CEECs jumped 50.2 percent year on year to 30.13 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter of 2021, data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed.

In 2020, trade in goods between China and the CEECs exceeded 100 billion U.S. dollars for the first time. In the first quarter of this year, China imported 8.17 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods from these countries, a year-on-year jump of 44.7 percent.

Over the past few years, China has also seen accelerated trade cooperation with the CEECs. Trade between the two sides grew at an average pace of 8 percent between 2012 and 2020, more than twice the growth of China-EU trade during the same period.

The supply and industrial chains of the two sides are complementary, which leads to positive prospects, said Ren Hongbin, assistant minister of commerce.

China has become Hungary’s most important trade partner outside the European Union (EU), said Laszlo Balogh, deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Finance of the country. In 2020, bilateral trade between the two countries rose 22 percent year on year to 11 billion U.S. dollars.

The expo, which is scheduled to close on June 11, will become another trade propeller between China and the CEECs. Featuring products such as helicopters, light aircraft, yachts, as well as agricultural products, high-end kitchen appliances and skincare brands from CEECs, it will provide a platform to promote more balanced trade.

China will take multiple measures including facilitating custom clearance, as part of efforts to realize the promise of importing goods worth 170 billion U.S. dollars from the CEECs in the next five years, said Wang Bingnan, Chinese vice minister of commerce.

Besides optimizing trade cooperation with the CEECs, China is proactively expanding the cooperation to new areas, including digital, health and green sectors, which will also contribute to the global economic recovery, according to MOC officials.

During the expo, a mechanism for China-CEEC e-commerce cooperation and dialogue was launched as a gesture that the two sides will share joint achievements in talent cultivation and construction of logistics infrastructure, and introduce more commodities from CEECs to China’s market through e-commerce platforms.

On June 2, China and 15 CEECs jointly made an announcement to strengthen cooperation in forestry to further boost forest bioeconomic growth. Guan Zhi’ou, head of China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration, deemed it an inevitable choice to achieve sustainable development.

“We should make full use of the expo to carry out in-depth exchanges and achieve more win-win outcomes so as to inject new impetus to practical cooperation between China and the CEECs,” said Chinese vice commerce minister Wang Bingnan.