Remarks by H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China at Third China-Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum
Bucharest, 26 November 2013
The Honorable Prime Minister Victor Ponta,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to visit Romania, a good friend of China, and attend the Third China-Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum. Let me extend, on behalf of the Chinese government, my hearty congratulations on the opening of the Forum and my sincere thanks to all the people who have cared for, supported and participated in the cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs).
Prime Minister Ponta just now outlined the theme of the Forum, a gathering that the Romanian government has made thoughtful arrangements for. The full house we see today augurs well for China-CEEC cooperation. Just days ago, the 16th China-EU Summit was held successfully in Beijing. The two sides jointly issued the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, which mapped out a new blueprint for future cooperation between China and the EU. What is crucial now is to translate the agenda into reality. That is precisely what my colleagues and I are here for. Europe is an important global player, and China has been a staunch supporter for European integration. A united, prosperous and growing Europe conforms to the trend of world peace and development and meets China’s fundamental interests. CEE countries are an important part of Europe, enhanced practical cooperation between China and CEE countries is conducive to the development in the respective countries, to a more balanced development in Europe, and to making the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU richer and more substantive.
China and CEE countries enjoy a profound traditional friendship. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, CEE countries offered us invaluable support by taking the lead to establish diplomatic ties with New China. Over the past 60 years and more, our friendly relations have stood the test of changing international landscapes and become increasingly vigorous as time goes by. In recent years, we have braved the impact of the international financial crisis and the European debt crisis and scored fresh progress in trade and economic relations through strengthened unity and deepened cooperation. In 2012, two-way trade topped US$50 billion for the second consecutive year and the accumulative investment approached US$5 billion. Meat, dairy and other products from CEE countries have become household items in China, and more Chinese companies are investing and carrying out business activities in CEE countries. Bilateral cooperation in the financial sector has become closer and practical cooperation across the board is showing a strong dynamism.
That said, we are fully aware that China-CEEC trade is only about one tenth of China-EU trade and the CEE countries represent an even smaller share in terms of China’s investment in Europe. This, however, speaks for a huge potential for China-CEEC cooperation. As emerging markets, CEE countries enjoy a sound momentum of growth and a broad prospect for development. As a developing country, China is in a development stage similar to CEE countries with comparable per capita income and strong economic complementarity with CEE countries. It is high time that China and CEE countries tapped their cooperation potential, cultivated cooperation highlights and accelerated development of their economic relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world is now undergoing complex and profound changes. Global economic recovery has been quite bumpy with advanced economies begining to show signs of improvement while emerging economies coming under considerable downward pressure. To free ourselves from the underlying impact of the international financial crisis, it is essential that we enhance international cooperation and reject trade and investment protectionism. China and CEE countries share a tradition of treating all countries as equals irrespective of size and respecting one another. Our efforts to achieve win-win outcome and common development will stand a good chance if we can build on past cooperation, extensively explore new cooperation measures and steadily expand our converging interests. Today, we will jointly issue the “Bucharest Guidelines for Cooperation”. To ensure its effective implementation and further progress in the all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered win-win cooperation between China and CEE countries, I would like to make the following proposals:
First, we should double our trade volume once again. China-CEEC trade has been doubled in the past few years, but the volume remains quite modest. We should work together to double our trade once again in the next five years. We will jointly declare 2014 as the China-CEEC Investment and Business Promotion Year during which China will hold a series of functions such as a China-CEEC ministerial round table on trade and economic cooperation, a CEEC commodities fair and a China-CEEC agricultural cooperation forum to spur a rapid trade expansion. China does not seek trade surplus with CEE countries, but is ready to promote a dynamic balance in trade by buying more quality agricultural products from CEE countries such as beef, mutton and dairy, and encouraging more Chinese citizens to tour CEE countries.
Second, we should work together to build a number of large infrastructure projects. CEE countries face a heavy task of infrastructure overhaul and development which calls for a massive introduction of capital, technology and equipment. China’s manufacturing industry is world renowned and made-in-china equipments have become more mature and sophisticated. Particularly in railway, electricity and other sectors, China has acquired a strong capacity in technology and equipments as well as rich experience in construction and operation. Chinese equipments are highly competitive, reliable and cost-effective. China is ready to step up cooperation with CEE countries in high-speed and regular rail, nuclear and other power generation, roads, ports, telecommunications and other areas. And we need to launch a number of large projects as soon as possible so as to boost a fast rise in two-way investment and a substantial increase in trade.
Making a good use of the financing channels is important for proposed cooperation in large projects. The US$10 billion special credit line set up by China last year is well-received in CEE countries. We are ready to work with the relevant applicants to ensure that the credit line be used more promptly and effectively through more flexible and convenient ways consistent with related international rules. The China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund (stage one) has been launched. The Chinese side supports the launching of its stage two at an appropriate time by China’s financial institutions. We welcome capital replenishment by CEEC financial institutions in this project and hope to see more applications by relevant enterprises under the project. We also encourage our financial institutions to set up branches in each other’s countries. What is more, China is ready to sign currency swap and settlement agreement with more CEE countries.
Third, we should actively expand two-way investment between enterprises. China is ready to sign a framework agreement on industrial investment with CEE countries and support its competent enterprises in investing in Central and Eastern Europe. With employment being the biggest issue concerning people’s wellbeing in both China and CEE countries, we should encourage cooperation by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they employ lots of people and can create more jobs. China is also ready to explore the establishment of a China-CEEC SME exchange and cooperation platform, hold policy seminars on SME investment promotion, and organize a special fair for SMEs of 16 CEE countries. China is ready to work with CEE countries in helping respective enterprises secure market access, residence visa and work permit and creating conditions favorable for them to make mutual investment and carry out innovation. It is also our hope that think-tanks, business associations and mass media will each play a distinctive role so as to send a strong signal for all-out development through cooperation. I am confident that China-CEEC cooperation will achieve faster, steadier and more extensive development in the years ahead.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China’s development will not be possible without cooperation with other countries and a prosperous and stable world also needs a China that enjoys development and progress. In the face of a grim situation featuring sluggish global economic recovery and an increasing downward pressure on the domestic economy, the Chinese government has, since the beginning of the year, remained calm and, while keeping the economy within a reasonable range, focused itself on streamlining the administration, delegating power to lower levels, readjusting economic structure, and boosting market vitality and creativity and unleashing reform dividends by relaxing market access and encouraging private investment. With statistics of the previous ten months showing clear improvement in many economic indicators, China’s economy has made the turn for the better. We have good reasons to believe that the main economic and social development targets set for the year will be achieved, thus laying a solid foundation for continued growth next year and a long-term and sustained development of the Chinese economy.
The Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee held recently made important arrangements for China’s comprehensive reform. We will continue to deepen reform, further expand opening-up, properly handle the relationship between government and the marketplace so that the market can play the decisive role in resource allocation and the government play a better role. In so doing, we will continue to unleash creativity and internal driver of society, achieve a more efficient, more equitable and more sustainable development and lay a solid foundation for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realizing the Chinese dream for China’s great renewal.
The comprehensive deepening of China’s reform and a sustainable and steady growth of the Chinese economy, coupled with a vigorous development of China-CEEC relations will generate enormous business opportunities for our enterprises. Preliminary estimates suggest that between 2013 and 2020, China will import around US$3 trillion of goods from Europe and Europe-bound investment by Chinese enterprises and Europe-bound Chinese tourists will also grow dramatically. Indeed, China’s success story with reform and development and the deepening cooperation between China and CEE countries will deliver benefit not only to the Chinese people but also to the people of CEE countries and other European countries.
As a European proverb says, “One ounce of action is better than a ton of rhetoric.” In China, we have an old saying that goes, “It is better to get up and act than sit and talk.” To turn our blueprint into reality needs the concerted actions of both our governments and enterprises. I believe that as long as we act in the spirit of equality, mutual respect, mutual benefit and common development, and work together in the same direction, the win-win relationship between China and CEE countries will have a brighter prospect, our practical cooperation will prove more fruitful, and our common development will bring about a better future.
To conclude, let me wish the Third China-Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum a complete success.