It has been seven years since the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) “16+1 cooperation” mechanism was established.

The 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe were included into the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2017, making it the only region along the “Belt and Road” to have been fully included into the initiative.

This April, Greece was accepted as a full member of the cooperation mechanism between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC). Greece’s participation makes it “17+1 cooperation.”

On Tuesday, the fifth group meetings of provincial governors of the China-CEEC association was held in northeastern China’s Dalian. Thirty-six working groups from 17 CEEC member countries attended the two-day event to enhance regional cooperation in areas like auto industry, chemicals, finance and medicine.

After the event, representatives from the 17 CEEC member countries will visit several industrial hubs, as well as some well established companies in Liaoning Province like Ansteel and Neusoft.

Bilateral trade between China and CEEC reached 82.23 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 21 percent year-on-year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. C

hina’s exports to the CEEC totaled 59.19 billion U.S. dollars last year, while imports reached 23.04 billion U.S. dollars, up 19.6 percent and 24.6 percent respectively. Investment between the two sides also expanded.

Chinese firms have invested over 10 billion U.S. dollars in the CEEC, while receiving more than 1.5 billion U.S. dollars from them.