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Premier Li calls for more Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe

China will encourage its enterprises to make more investment in Central and Eastern European countries, Premier Li Keqiang said on Nov 27 in the Hungarian capital Budapest, calling for visa facilitation for Chinese companies in the region.

Premier Li made the remarks in his opening speech at the seventh China-Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEEC) Economic and Trade Forum, part of the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEEC summit).

The Premier announced the establishment of the China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of China-Central and Eastern Europe (China-CEE) Investment Cooperation Fund.

The China Development Bank will provide an equivalent amount of two billion euros ($2.4 billion) as development-oriented financial cooperation loans to the association, while the second phase of the fund that totaled $1 billion will be mainly invested in Central and Eastern Europe, according to Premier Li.

He called for synergizing the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of CEEC, adding that the two sides should enhance cooperation in the field of new growth drivers.

Premier Li said China will increase imports of meat, dairy products, honey, fruits and other agricultural products, adding that he would like to enjoy high-quality agricultural products from Central and Eastern European countries as a consumer.

China will sign agreements on quarantine and inspection of agricultural products with six countries in the region this year and will hold an import expo of CEEC agricultural products in 2018, he revealed.

“It is estimated that China will import products worth of $8 trillion from overseas in the next five years,” the Premier said. “I hope Central and Eastern European countries will take a larger share of it.”

He noted that this year marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the China-CEEC cooperation, adding that the 16+1 cooperation mechanism has been realized against the backdrop of globalization and calls for free trade and investment facilitation.

Premier Li said cross-region cooperation is an important carrier of globalization.

During the past five years, Chinese investment in CEEC has increased from 6 $billion to $9 billion, while the number of Chinese tourists visiting the region has jumped from 200,000 to 900,000, according to the Premier.

Premier Li arrived in Budapest on Nov 26 and will pay an official visit to Hungary after the summit.