Why are more tech products being traded between China and Central and Eastern European countries?
A view of Ningbo City, host of the 3rd CEEC Expo, east China's Zhejiang Province, May 13, 2023. /CFP
A view of Ningbo City, host of the 3rd CEEC Expo, east China's Zhejiang Province, May 13, 2023. /CFP

A view of Ningbo City, host of the 3rd CEEC Expo, east China's Zhejiang Province, May 13, 2023. /CFP

As important partners for developing the Belt and Road Initiative, Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) are crucial in China's foreign trade "friendship circle," and more technological products are adding value to the annually increased trade between the two sides, China's Ministry of Commerce has noted. 

"Based on the commodity structure analysis, we've learned that mechanical and electrical products have accounted for about 70 percent of the import and export goods between China and Central and Eastern European countries," said Li Fei, vice minister of commerce.

According to Li, the trade between China and CEECs has grown at an average annual rate of 8.1 percent since 2012, while imports from these countries have increased by 9.2 percent. In the first quarter of this year, trade between the two sides reached $33.3 billion, representing a growth rate of 1.6 percent.

Li shared these figures at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office on May 5, ahead of the third China-Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEEC) Expo set to be held in Ningbo City in east China's Zhejiang province.

The expo, which will be held from May 16 to 20, serves as an important bridge to deepen the economic and trade ties between China and CEE countries, said Lu Shan, vice governor of Zhejiang Province. 

With Hungary attending as a guest country and 2,030 companies from CEE countries having registered, the exhibition is expected to attract some 100,000 attendees. Meanwhile, it will also feature international consumer products and forums and panel discussions on the topics of technology, tourism, and health.

More tech products traded

The high percentage of technological products traded between China and CEE countries "reflects a high level of trade cooperation between the two and the value lies within the trade," Li said at the press conference.

Last year, China's exports to CEE countries mainly consisted of electrical equipment, machinery, vehicles and parts, furniture and bedding, according to Yu Yuantang, director of the European department of China's Ministry of Commerce. 

China's imports from the region mainly comprised of vehicles and parts, electrical equipment, machinery, precision optical and measuring instruments, copper materials, and wood products. In the first quarter of this year, China's imports from CEE countries saw a significant increase in carbonate, lasers, essential oils, whey and corn.

Yu said that China and CEE countries play important roles in the global supply chain as the two have strong economic complementarity and smooth interconnectivity. He added that the active bilateral investment between the two sides has also promoted the rapid development of trade.

"We will fully leverage China's huge market potential and CEE's geographical advantages to expand cooperation beyond traditional areas and focus on new fields and new business models such as green, low-carbon, digital, and healthy sectors, to further promote sustainable development of trade between China and CEE countries," Yu said.

Technician of Ningbo Yongxin Optics is inspecting product. /Ningbo Yongxin Optics
Technician of Ningbo Yongxin Optics is inspecting product. /Ningbo Yongxin Optics

Technician of Ningbo Yongxin Optics is inspecting product. /Ningbo Yongxin Optics

Ningbo emerges as a top manufacturing city

As the host city for this year's China-CEEC Expo, Ningbo has emerged as a top manufacturing city in the China over the past decade with 83 national-level champion enterprises for single product manufacturing. The city's strong industrial foundation and advanced manufacturing technology have attracted numerous high-tech enterprises to set up their production bases here.

Ningbo Yongxin Optics, an optical components producer who used to make original equipment manufacturing (OEM) for overseas enterprises, went on to produce spaceborne optical monitoring cameras for China's moon probes Chang'e -2, -3 and -4, after years of learning.

From 1997 to 2007, the company spent years doing OEM for leading international enterprises including Leica and Zeiss, but OEM is not a profitable business in the long run and cannot adapt to the constantly changing international environment. 

The company then transformed itself to participate in national technology projects by bringing up an internal efficiency, improving employees' skillsets and collaborating with colleges to keep exploring cutting-edge technologies.

The Yinzhou District of Ningbo City, where Yongxin Optics is located, is also home to a number of manufacturing companies such as Joyson Electronic, Loctek Ergonomic Tech, and Bedra Intelligent Wires. They have all increased investment on smart production and digitalization of research and development to keep pushing for innovation.

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