China-CEEC Expo drives 'practical' ties

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated:  May 17, 2023 L M S


A visitor tries out a wine at the third China-CEEC Expo in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, on Tuesday. HU XUEJUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Major event attracts 3,000 exhibitors, 100,000 visitors, promising win-win

The China-CEEC Expo has become one of the most important pragmatic platforms under the cooperative framework between China and CEEC, and China will seek to push ahead all-round communication and cooperation with CEEC, industry observers and government officials said.

CEEC is a generic term that refers to Central and Eastern European Countries.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday in Beijing that China is willing to share its development dividends and related benefits with CEEC to create a win-win atmosphere.

The 3rd China-CEEC Expo and International Consumer Goods Fair, which is simply called the China-CEEC Expo, kicked off in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, on Tuesday.

The five-day event, whose theme is "Practical Cooperation for a Shared Future", is expected to attract about 3,000 exhibitors, more than 10,000 buyers and over 100,000 visitors. Purchase orders worth over 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) for CEEC products are expected during the event.

"The China-CEEC Expo is an important platform to promote practical cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries," said Wang Yong, vice-chairman of 14th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, in his address at the opening ceremony in Ningbo on Tuesday.

Hungary is the only guest of honor country at this year's event and 35 Hungarian companies are participating in the expo.

"China is Hungary's largest trading partner outside Europe," said Peter Szijjarto, Hungary's minister of foreign affairs and trade.

Official data showed that bilateral trade between the two countries surpassed $15 billion in 2022.

In 2014, the CEEC Products Fair was held in Ningbo. Since 2015, the city has hosted four sessions of the China-CEEC Investment and Trade Expo. In 2019, the event was upgraded to China's only State-level exhibition that is targeted at CEEC and renamed it as the China-CEEC Expo and International Consumer Goods Fair.

"One-third of the exhibitors are displaying their products here for the past three successive expos while another one-third of the exhibitors are newcomers," said Zhang Yadong, director of the Ningbo CEEC Exhibition and Cooperation Promotion Center. "It's a win for the event that the old friends are willing to participate again and new friends are attracted to the expo."

Peter Lisicky, owner of Vino Peter Lisicky Winery in Slovakia, said his firm has exported wine to China for three years. He said he has high expectations from the winery's participation in the expo.

"Sales of our products have been growing over the past three years," said Lisicky. "We are very happy to be here in China, our biggest market. And we want to expand our market presence."

The Slovakian wine firm benefits from Ningbo' s efforts to build itself into the first choice of CEEC to export goods to the Chinese market. In recent years, the city has coordinated departments, including commerce, port and Customs, to help traders in CEEC solve problems and facilitate trade flows.

In 2022, Ningbo's imports from CEEC reached 11.2 billion yuan, a more than ninefold increase from 2016. In the first quarter of this year, Ningbo's imports from CEEC increased by 102 percent year-on-year to 4.39 billion yuan.

Sinotrans Zhejiang Co Ltd, one of the expo participants, has been involved in the transport of CEEC products since 2018. One of its executives, Yao Zhengyi, said that during the preparations for this year's expo, Ningbo Customs upgraded the Customs clearance services.

A special channel was launched for exhibits giving traders access to make Customs clearance appointments round the clock. The imported products can be directly sent to the expo venue after a one-stop Customs inspection at ports of entry.

The expo offered a broad platform for the China-CEEC investment projects. "This year marks the 11th anniversary of the launch of the China-CEEC cooperation framework. TCL has cooperated with CEEC for many years," said Li Dongsheng, chairman of the consumer electronics giant TCL.

Li said TCL has invested nearly $100 million in upgrading a Polish factory with digital and smart technology. The annual capacity of the factory is now 50 times that in 2004.

Zdravko Marinkovic, president of the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina, called for more cooperation in various fields.

"A number of opportunities for cooperation between China and CEEC are arising in the fields of energy, infrastructure construction, the transition to a circular economy, and the revival and implementation of the green energy principles," said Marinkovic.