Ladies and gentlemen,
In a complex and volatile international environment, we are confronted by growing uncertainties and destabilizing factors, from setbacks in economic globalization and rising unilateral and protectionist tendencies to fluctuations on the global financial markets and heightened geopolitical risks. The more challenges we face, the more imperative it is for us to work closely together. China has proposed the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and called for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative through consultation and collaboration. China is committed to working with the CEE countries to broaden and deepen 16+1 cooperation by leveraging our respective strengths, with the aim of boosting our own development and helping to sustain the global economic recovery.
— We need to jointly promote trade liberalization. China-CEEC cooperation flourishes in a free and open international trading environment. Throughout the years, the multilateral trading system under the WTO has served as an institutional underpinning for economic globalization and trade liberalization as well as an anchor for world peace and development. Today, the world’s economies are more or less integrated into the global industrial and value chains; we are interdependent as we all have a stake in each other’s success. All countries have the right to pursue development; but the right approach to do so is to seek win-win results. To quote a Chinese maxim, “If you want to succeed, help others succeed as well.” Unilateral and protectionist actions will get nowhere, and no one will emerge as a winner from a trade war.
Both China and CEE countries are beneficiaries and supporters of the existing international economic and trade order. We need to firmly uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system by resolutely rejecting all forms of protectionism and unilateralism. Reform and improvement may be necessary for some of the WTO rules to reflect the changing world. But the most fundamental principles such as free trade must be observed, equal participation be ensured, and the concerns of most WTO members be accommodated.
China would like to work with CEE countries to enhance trade liberalization and facilitation, and expand two-way trade. We are ready to speed up the conclusion of inspection and quarantine protocols with relevant countries to facilitate the import of meat, dairy, honey and other competitive products from CEE countries. In four months’ time, China will hold its first-ever International Import Expo in Shanghai as a major step to support trade liberalization and further open up its market to the rest of the world. We welcome the active participation of CEE businesses at the Shanghai gathering.
At the same time, as the world’s largest exporter of goods, China offers a wide range of products from electronic and mechanical products, to home appliances and everyday consumer goods. These high-quality yet inexpensive products may well meet the diverse needs of CEE countries. It is our hope that more steps will be taken to ease market access for Chinese products.
— We need to speed up infrastructure connectivity, which is a priority in our results-oriented cooperation. Vigorous efforts are called for in enhancing “hardware” connectivity. We need to press ahead with infrastructure cooperation along the routes of the China-Europe Land Sea Express Line and the China-Europe freight train service, and bring forward construction on the Budapest-Belgrade railway by endeavoring to start the building of the whole Serbian section next year. China is willing to consider more flexible ways of guarantee to support key infrastructure projects. On the “soft” side of connectivity, we need to implement the 2018-2020 Action Plan for China-CEEC Customs Inspection and Quarantine SPS Cooperation to further streamline customs clearance and strengthen cooperation and services on standards.
—We need to step up cooperation on industrial capacity and investment. China encourages capable Chinese companies to make investments in CEE countries and deepen cooperation with local partners in processing, manufacturing, the green industry, industrial parks, the coastal economy and overseas warehouses. We also welcome more CEEC investments in China and joint efforts to develop 16+1 economic cooperation and trade demonstration zones and SME cooperation zones.
When it comes to 16+1 cooperation projects, China supports open and rules-based bidding to allow companies from China, Europe and elsewhere to engage in fair competition and seek common progress. Third parties are welcome to take part in our industrial capacity and investment cooperation by leveraging their unique strengths. China also encourages financial institutions from both sides to set up branches in each other’s countries and will explore with CEE countries new financing channels such as RMB-denominated financing and green financial bond issuance.
— We need to deepen sub-national cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. Exchanges at sub-national levels are part and parcel of overall 16+1 cooperation. China and CEE countries have forged more than 160 pairs of sister provinces/states and cities relationships. Seizing the opportunities of the Year of Cooperation between Local Governments and Local Enterprises, we need to give full play to the initiatives and creativity of local governments, expand economic and trade links, and explore cooperation in urbanization, modern agriculture, environmental conservation and rural development.
People-to-people ties are an important bridge and foundation for future cooperation. China will advance cultural, tourism, sports, youth, media and think tank exchanges between the two sides, help build educational capacity in CEE countries, and intensify cooperation in higher education, innovation, entrepreneurship and vocational education. Together, we will advance the China-CEEC Science, Technology and Innovation Partnership.