China is willing to further enhance cooperation with central and eastern European countries in areas of economic development strategy and planning, pushing ahead inter-connectivity in infrastructure and cooperation in trade and production capacity, a top official pledged.
"China is ready to unswervingly expand the scope of market openness, and push ahead the opening of its modern service sector, manufacturing and agriculture," Hu Chunhua, vice-premier of the State Council, said at the China-CEEC Cooperation Forum in Ningbo on Sunday.
The forum, part of the ongoing first China-CEEC Expo being held in Ningbo, drew officials, businessmen and academics from both China and CEEC.
Statistics show that between 2012 and 2018, China's trade with CEEC witnessed an annual growth of 8.1 percent to rise from $56.1 billion in 2012 to $89.3 billion last year. Chinese enterprises have so far invested a combined $12 billion in CEEC.
"Slovakia is proud to be part of the 17+1 initiative and we've witnessed concrete and practical results coming out of such cooperation. We see the strong potential here in China," Richard Rasi, deputy prime minister of the Slovak Republic, said at the forum.
He added that Slovakia, as a member of the EU, understands the importance of economic cooperation with countries outside the EU, is calling for both sides to enhance economic cooperation in the agriculture and food sectors.
The China-Central and Eastern European Countries Expo, or China-CEEC Expo, which was upgraded this year to become a national-level expo, opened Saturday in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang province. It ends Wednesday.
Notably, Greece is the newcomer to the expo this year as it joined the cooperation effort between China and the 16 CEEC members, turning the previously "16+1 Cooperation" into "17+1 Cooperation".
Slovakia and the Republic of Lithuania were this year's guest countries of honor, with products from Northeast China's Jilin province also highlighted at the expo.