EconomyForeign Affairs

PM Orbán: China-CEE Cooperation Serves Interests Of Whole Europe

Speaking at Monday’s CEE-China summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the project to upgrade the Budapest-Belgrade rail line with China’s involvement a “flagship” enterprise, the first major scheme implemented in cooperation between China, an EU member state, and an EU aspirant.

Hungarian Prime Minister speaking at Monday’s CEE-China summit (photo: Balázs Szecsődi – kormany.hu)

Viktor Orbán said that the renewed line would ensure the fastest way for Chinese goods through central Europe to the West. Europe must tap the technical and financial resources of China’s soaring economy in order to develop further, he said, adding that if Europe turned inward it would miss out on development opportunities “at a time when it faces historic challenges which it cannot meet unless it has powerful allies”.

The “16+1 formula” not only serves CEE interests but those of the whole of Europe, he said. “It’s a real win-win situation.” Viktor Orbán said financial cooperation was a top subject at the summit, and added that the Eximbanks of Hungary and China were poised to sign an agreement on the second phase of the China-Central Europe Fund.

Hungarian PM Orbán: China- CEE cooperation is a success story

China’s strengthening economy offers a fount of opportunities to countries in central and eastern Europe, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after a forum attended by leaders of China and the CEE region in Budapest. At a press conference, Orbán noted Asia’s increased weight “in the new world order which is now forming”, adding that China had become “a dominant financial and technological power”.

Orbán said central and eastern Europe harboured great potential but technology and financing from outside Europe was required to meet future development needs since the continent’s resources were no longer sufficient. Orbán called China- CEE cooperation a success story. At present 11 EU member states and five non-EU countries are involved in the 16+1 cooperation with China. One key question is whether they are able to launch ambitious, large-scale development projects that enhance the region as a whole, he added.

Chinese PM Li Keqiang, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and Bulgaria’s PM Boyko Borisov at their joint press conference in Budapest (photo: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI)

Chinese PM Li Keqiang: China and central and eastern Europe complement and boost each others’ economy

China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China would like to see a prosperous Europe, and the country supports both European integration and the development of countries aspiring for EU membership. Li Keqiang said central and eastern Europe was the EU’s most rapidly developing region, with an average GDP growth rate of 3% per annum. Cooperation with China, whose economy grew by 6.9% in the first three quarters of 2017, could enhance this trend, he said.

According to the Chinese Premier, China and central and eastern Europe complement and boost each others’ economy, and may find new paths to success on the international market together, Li said. Chinese imports may also open up opportunities for local businesses, he added. China seeks to import as many goods and services from the CEE region as possible and to promote the development of its infrastructure, the prime minister said. He noted that trade between China and the CEE had increased by 14% this year. In the years to come, China seeks to open its gates even wider to the world, including central and eastern Europe, he said. In a move to reduce its trade surplus, it would like to increase its farm purchases from this region, he said.

Li Keqiang said China was prepared to expand industrial capacities and establish industrial parks in the CEE region. He added that his country has offered 5,000 state scholarships to central and eastern European students. Tourism is also on the rise between the countries, Li said, with a growing number of Chinese tourists visiting central and eastern Europe every year.

Bulgaria’s PM Borisov: Bulgaria sees huge potential in China-CEE cooperation

Boyko Borisov, prime minister of Bulgaria, the host of the next China-CEE summit, noted that his country would hold the EU’s rotating presidency in the first half of 2018. The summit will focus on the situation and development of the Western Balkans. It is also from this aspect that Bulgaria sees huge potential in China-CEE cooperation, he said.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan arriving to attend a roundtable discussion on China- CEE economic cooperation (photo: Zsolt Szigetváry – MTI)

Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó: Small and medium-sized enterprises play leading role in China- CEE economic cooperation

Small and medium-sized enterprises should be given a bigger role in China- CEE economic cooperation, Hungary’s foreign affairs and trade minister told a roundtable discussion organised as part of the China-CEE summit in Budapest.

SMEs are the backbone of the Hungarian economy and one of the best ways they can attract more support is by convincing more and more large corporations to invest in Hungary, Péter Szijjártó said. SMEs, too, can become suppliers to the companies that invest here, the minister said. He said the 16 CEE countries participating in the summit were friends, but at the same time competitors in the race to attract investors. Hungary offers, among other things, a low corporate tax rate and support for the use and research and development of new technologies to foreign investors, Szijjártó said.

The presence of Hungarian firms on the Chinese market is also important, as is selecting the right sectors in which Hungarian companies can be successful there, the minister said. These areas include water management, the food industry and IT, he said.

China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said that SMEs are considered a driving force of the “16+1” cooperation. He noted that the first China-CEE business forum was held in 2011 and since then, the “16+1” cooperation had become more important and effective. The minister said Hungarian and Chinese business representatives would sign a number of cooperation agreements worth over 800 million US dollars in total.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI; featured photo: Balázs Szecsődi – MTI/kormany.hu