China-CEEC cooperation expands in Ningbo
Ningbo, Zhejiang province, host city for the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Expo, has not only facilitated cooperation in trade but also expanded it to more areas.
The third China-CEEC Expo kicked off in Ningbo on Tuesday, revolving around the theme "Practical cooperation for a shared future". The event includes 27 activities and has attracted nearly 3,000 exhibitors, more than 10,000 buyers and some 100,000 visitors. Over 10 billion-yuan ($1.43 billion) purchase orders for CEEC products are expected to be made during the event.
Hungary is the guest of honor country of this year's expo. A delegation led by Peter Szijjarto, Hungary's minister of foreign affairs and trade, attended the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
Szijjarto stressed that the example of Hungary proves that there is much to be gained from fair and constructive cooperation with China.
Janos Hajdu, general manager of a beef processing factory in Hungary is leading a three-person team to the expo. Although it's the first time the business has attended, its beef products have already reached the Ningbo market.
In July, Ningbo launched a chartered business flight to Europe. Sun Chonglong, executive director of Ningbo Lianbang Changyun International Trade Co, took the flight to Hungary and placed a $200 million order for beef at the factory.
Around 30 containers of beef are shipped monthly from Hungary to Ningbo. Some of the beef is transported to wholesalers and processing plants, while some is sold through an online shopping platform launched by the Ningbo municipal bureau of commerce. It has become a best-seller on the platform.
In recent years, Ningbo has been building itself into the first choice for CEEC to export goods to Chinese markets. The city has coordinated departments, including commerce, port, and customs, to help traders in those countries solve problems and facilitate trade.
Last year, Ningbo's imports from Central and Eastern Europe reached 11.2 billion yuan, a more than nine-fold increase from 2016. Meat products accounted for more than one-third of China's total meat imports. In the first quarter of this year, Ningbo's imports from the region increased by 102 percent year on year to 4.39 billion yuan.
As the China-CEEC Business Cooperation Demonstration Zone, Ningbo has also expanded cooperation. As of the end of last year, 176 projects with two-way investment exceeding $1 billion had been reached between Ningbo and CEEC.
In April, the China (Ningbo Yuyao)-CEEC Industrial Cooperation Forum was held in Budapest, Hungary, during which five projects related to high-end manufacturing, information technology, biomedicine and virtual reality were signed. The Ningbo CEEC (Budapest) Innovation Center was also launched at the forum.
Tourism and educational cooperation are also on track to be implemented.
The city said it will launch a new direct flight to Budapest at the end of May, and more CEEC travel products will be rolled out in the near future.
More than 90 colleges in Central and Eastern Europe have cooperated with Ningbo, with more than 1,000 teachers and students having worked and studied in the city.
One student is Stoyan Valentinov Gegovski of Bulgaria. Having graduated from Ningbo University in 2022, he started his business — Zhejiang Yiliu Cultural Communication Co — in Ningbo. The company aims to promote culture and tourism cooperation between Ningbo and CEEC.
"I recommend the Rose Valley in Bulgaria and the ancient Roman theater. And I believe that more Chinese tourists would like to find out more about Central and Eastern European countries in the future," he said.