China-CEEC economic engagement: a shining model of transregional practical cooperation

By Muhammad Asif Noor | Gwadar Pro May 16, 2023

Editor's Note: The writer is the Founder of Friends of BRI Forum. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.


China is making concerted efforts to bolster its economic ties with the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) through the third China-CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair held in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China from May 16 to 20.

There are about 3,000 exhibitors at this year's expo, an increase of 30 percent over the second one, said Lu Shan, deputy governor of Zhejiang.

The annual expo reflects the importance of this region in China's global economic strategy. CEE countries' geographic location, infrastructure networks, and economic potential have made them vital partners in the construction and development of the BRI.

China's trade with CEEC has grown at an average annual rate of 8.1 percent since 2012, with China's imports from these countries rising 9.2 percent year on year on average, data shows.       This demonstrates the significant potential for mutual benefit in the partnership. In the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and the severe economic downturn worldwide, the trade and economic relations between China and CEEC have exhibited an exceptional level of resilience. Despite the unprecedented challenges, this partnership has served as a shining model of transregional practical cooperation, offering a glimmer of hope for the international community grappling with immense difficulties. While this growth has been driven by the cooperation mechanism between China and CEEC, it also reflects China's broader drive to increase its global economic reach.

One of the key factors of the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism is the access it provides to the vast market potential of the region. The CEE countries offer a range of goods and services that are in high demand in China, such as agricultural products, consumer goods, medical equipment, and intelligent products. The upcoming trade expo will serve as a critical platform for Chinese customers to gain hands-on experience with CEEC products and services while also enabling Chinese companies to identify high-value commodities in the CEEC market for expanding cooperation and common development.

China-CEEC collaboration was pivotal in injecting growth in the Chinese manufacturing industry and trade in goods and services. Last year when this trade expo was held, the trade between Ningbo and seventeen CEEC states hit ¥11.96 billion in the next quarter, amounting to 48.8 percent year-on-year growth. The exports of Ningbo exponentially spiked up to 27.9 percent year-on-year, touching ¥9 billion. The imports of Ningbo from CEEC witnessed 241 percent growth after the 2021 Expo, hitting ¥2.69 billion. The private sector dominates the trade between China and CEEC, reflecting higher investor confidence in the platform. 

The China-CEEC cooperation has emerged as a significant force in shaping global economic engagement. The annual trade expo held in Ningbo has played a pivotal role in deepening economic ties between China and the CEEC, resulting in remarkable growth in trade volumes and expanding investment opportunities. The success of this cooperation mechanism highlights the immense potential for mutual benefits and enhanced regional integration. The CEEC-China partnership, within the broader context of China's global economic engagement, presents both opportunities and complexities that necessitate careful consideration and strategic management.

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