On the afternoon of Oct. 25th (local time), the 3rd China-CEEC “17+1” Capital Chamber Leaders Roundtable, organized by CCPIT Beijing/Beijing Chamber of International Commerce and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tirana, was held in the capital of Albania. A major economic and trade event in parallel to the 4th China-CEEC “17+1” Capital Mayors Forum, the Roundtable was addressed by Zhou Ding (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Albania), Lu Yan (Vice Mayor of Beijing), and Anuela Ristani (Vice Mayor of Tirana). Heads and delegates of 18 capital chambers in 12 countries attended, namely Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and China. Zhang Yongming (Chair of CCPIT Beijing) and Nikolin Jaka (President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tirana) presided over the Roundtable.
In his speech, Zhou Ding noted that the “17+1” program aims to promote investment and trade between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), and integrate the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of countries concerned. Local exchanges constitute an integral part of the program. Zhou hoped that CEEC’s industrial and commercial sectors would play an active part in cooperation platforms like the Capital Mayors Forum and the Roundtable, share in the dividends of China’s economic development, and jointly develop a larger number of fruitful projects.
As Lu Yan put it, China is opening up further and further. In recent years, Beijing, the capital of China, has spared no effort to make it easier for investors at home and abroad to work and live there. Beijing is willing to play an exemplary pioneering role in “17+1” local exchanges and facilitate the building of cooperation platforms. Capital chambers are expected to figure more prominently in the “17+1” framework, with the aim of building mechanisms for win-win cooperation and creating unlimited possibilities for future development.
Anuela Ristani argued that 17 plus one turned out to be far greater than 18. Tirana is very glad to have hosted the Capital Mayors Forum and side events. The municipal government is committed to building a more comfortable, diversified, and investor-friendly urban environment, with a focus on green economy and the sharing economy. It is keen to enhance cooperation with China and Beijing on innovation projects involving investment, tourism, trade, and sustainable urban development.
The Roundtable is themed “Promoting imports and exports between China and CEEC”. In his keynote speech, Zhang Yongming claimed that the three-year-old Roundtable sparked lively discussions and drew wide support from national and capital city governments from the very beginning. Leaders of member chambers meet up regularly and share information frequently. Reciprocal visits and project matchmaking bring the two sides closer and closer. All these efforts have laid a solid foundation for future cooperation under the Roundtable framework. Speaking of which, Zhang made four proposals: first, China and CEEC should cooperate in line with intergovernmental initiatives, as a support for further expansion of trade volume; second, China and CEEC should prioritize and look into specific trade sectors, securing premium products and services access to the target market; third, China and CEEC should promote tangible cooperation by means of e-commerce, helping SMEs from CEEC tap the Chinese market on the cheap; fourth, China and CEEC should constantly implement, improve and enrich the cooperation mechanism for the chambers.
At the Roundtable, capital chamber leaders acknowledged the extent to which the “17+1” program had promoted CEEC’s development. They also countenanced Zhang Yongming’s proposals. It is unanimously agreed that capital chambers should stay in closer touch and forge greater synergy to help SMEs from CEEC seize the opportunities of the Chinese market, and in turn promote better and faster progress of investment and trade endeavors on both sides.
This year, the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce and the Romania-China Association of Economy and Trade Promotion acceded to the Roundtable, swelling its rank to 17 chambers in 13 Central and Eastern European Countries. The next Roundtable will be held in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2020.