16+1: Deepening pragmatic cooperation
The 7th summit of the Central and Eastern Europe and China is held in Sofia
Chinise Premier Li Keqiang told a summit with central and eastern European leaders in Sofia that China would stick to the path of opening its markets and other reforms that had fueled its economy, providing opportunities for EU members and aspirants in the bloc’s poorer half. China remains open for trade with foreign partners and can only benefit from an economically strong Europe, its leader said on Saturday at the start of the 7th CEEC-China Summit. Among the participants are leaders of Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech Republic and China.
“It is two-way traffic,” Li said though an interpreter. “Opening up has been a key driver of China’s reform agenda so we will continue to open wider to the world, including widening market access for foreign investors”.
The forum welcomed also 1,500 businessmen representing big companies of CEEC and China. This year’s theme is “Deepening of open and pragmatic cooperation for inclusive prosperity”. An exhibition of the achievements in the CEEC-China cooperation on the local level is staged on the sidelines of the event.
“We know that the business forum is actually a year older than the summit of governments’ leaders. This is illustrative of the fact that the summit of leaders provides a firmer platform for better business relationships”, Li Keqiang said. He again repeated the statement by Bulgarian PM Boiko Borissov who noted that 16+1 forum is not meant to divide Europe, on the contrary – it is aimed at creating new opportunities for further development.
“Today’s meeting between CEE states and China is aimed at strengthening Europe. It gives more opportunities to those who are lagging behind and joined the European family later. It will give us a chance to catch up”, Bulgarian Premier Boiko Borissov said. He added that additional financing provided by China to the CEE states will facilitate joint inclusion projects for which cohesion funds do not have money or they are currently beyond the sphere of the EU interests.
The initiative for 16+1 format was launched by China, it is focused on strengthening and expanding cooperation with the 16 states in such fields as investments, transport, finances, science, education, culture, etc. Within this year’s framework Bulgaria and China have marked out four potential priority sectors of economic cooperation: high tech, investments, industrial partnership, joint ventures and infrastructure, farming and tourism.
Adhering to the principles of balance, pragmatism, innovation, openness, and inclusiveness, 16+1 cooperation has seen fruitful results and plays an important role in promoting economic and social development in these countries, as well as promoting China-CEEC relations.
Li Keqiang expressed conviction that cooperation within the framework of 16+1 has to keep to this format that will become inclusive for other participants. Cooperation should remain open and be based on the principles of transparency, he said further.
Eighteen documents stipulating terms of cooperation between CEEC and China will be sighed during the forum. Among them is Joint Declaration for encouraging CEEC-China cooperation in e-commerce and farming. The Programme for joint action in the period of 2018-2020 between Interbank Association of China and CEEC states will also be penned.