The 3rd China-Central & Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Expo was held last week in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, drawing a record number of participants as many CEEC businesses are keen to introduce everything from agricultural products to wine to ski equipment to the vast Chinese market. The scale of the expo and steady growth in China-CEEC trade underscores the great potential for further expansion of China-CEEC win-win economic and trade cooperation. Such potential is reflected in the record participation at the China-CEEC Expo and International Consumer Goods Fair. This year's expo has drawn more than 3,000 exhibitors, an increase of 30% compared with the previous event and a new record, according to officials. Among them, more than 400 CEEC companies are attending, with some 100,000 people expected to visit the expo. The expo is held at a brand-new venue, including a services trade exhibition area.
In order to facilitate business cooperation, the expo held a first singing ceremony for 10 import deals and five cooperation programs, with a total value of CNY2.18 billion. The import deals cover a wide range of agricultural products, such as meat and dairy, as well as other consumer products, such as ski equipment and health products. This fully demonstrates the strong momentum of economic and trade cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries," the organizer of the expo said in a press release following the opening ceremony on May 16. Since 2012, China's trade with CEECs has grown by an average of 8.1% annually. In the first four months of 2023, China-CEEC trade grew by 2.8% year-on-year to USD44.87 billion, with China's imports of agricultural products from CEEC jumping by 43.1% year-on-year.
Liu Zuokui, Research Fellow for European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that despite geopolitical shifts in certain CEECs, they are also hoping to further expand trade with China. "Currently, CEECs need China's market for many things," Liu told the Global Times, pointing to Chinese demand for agricultural products from CEECs as well as Chinese investments in CEECs. There is also great potential for China-CEEC cooperation in areas such as tourism and logistics.
During a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary regards China as a strategic partner and an important development opportunity. Hungary welcomes Chinese investment and opposes decoupling and severing of supply chains, Szijjarto said. Hungary is the guest of honor at the third China-CEEC Expo, where the country's delegation was led by Foreign Minister Szijjarto. Chinese firms are increasing investment in the country, including USD3.3 billion in new Chinese investments in the automotive sector, the Global Times reports.