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27 November 2017, 14:53

CEEC-China 16+1 summit gets underway in Budapest

BUDAPEST, 27 November (BelTA) – The Central Eastern European Countries and China (CEEC-China 16+1) Summit of heads of government is taking place in Budapest, Hungary, BelTA has learned.

Belarus is participating in the summit in the capacity of observer. The Belarusian delegation is led by Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov. He also took part in the opening of the economic, trade and financial forum which is running during the summit and has gathered over 1,000 businessmen.

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When opening the summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban offered to sum up the results of the work done since the 2016 Riga forum and discuss the plan of further interaction. One of the key goals will be the development of CEEC-China customs cooperation. The CEEC-China forum due in June 2018 will be dedicated to this subject. “I think that a major breakthrough will happen when we sign a customs agreement to put an end to bureaucratic hurdles,” Viktor Orban remarked. Europe also hopes to increase the inflow of Chinese tourists. With this goal in mind, it plans to launch new air services to connect the European and Asian regions.

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In turn, Premier of China's State Council Li Keqiang called for starting a new chapter in cooperation in the 16+1 initiative. “Despite the geographical distance between us, the 16+1 format has brought great results. In the globalized world, we need interregional cooperation. Using our format, we managed to follow the way of development, which is adjusted to specific national features,” the official said.

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China is also in favor of expanding trade and economic cooperation in the 16+1 format. “We should find points of growth for business and innovations,” Li Keqiang noted. China intends to give priority to Central and Eastern Europe in financing projects. The Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank will be aimed at this goal.

The heads of government of China and Central and Eastern European countries are expected to sign a number of documents following the meeting of 27 November.

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The 16+1 format was authored by China. It is designed to intensify cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Czechia, and Estonia) in investment, transport, finance, science, education, and culture. The first 16+1 summit was held in Warsaw, Poland in 2012.

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