China & Central and European Countries continue seeking better trade and exchanges under the Belt and Road Initiative.

During the first China-CEEC Expo held in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo, think-tanks and researchers are discussing the achievements and challenges that people face in enhancing trade between China and the CEEC.

Almost every day, cargo trains set off from Yiwu, the largest distribution centre of small commodities in China, carrying tens of million goods between China and Europe.

In 2018, over 25,000 containers were sent.

“Our customers are mainly from inland cities in Europe. Goods have a tight schedule for delivery, and sometimes a short expiration date. Things like olive oil from Spain, or beer should be sent by train,” said Feng Xubin, Chairman of the Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment.

The company has been a supply chain provider for the rail route. It takes 20 to 30 days less than shipping to transport cargo from Europe to China.

This has given rise to trade between China and Central and Eastern European companies as many are along the route.

“We opened a route to Prague in 2017, and from there as a centre, the trade is rising fast,” Said Feng.

It’s not just by rail route either, trade between China and the CEEC has taken a leap in recent years, increasing by over 50 percent since 2011.

China is also working on balancing the trade, bringing mutual benefits to both sides.

Chinese imports from CEEC companies are growing even faster, increased by 87 percent since 2011.

“Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are very important to China. They have a very good industrial base, and a developed cultural and business environment.

They are good partners,” said professor Song Mingshun, Vice Chairman of China Association for Standardisation.

More Chinese tourists are flocking to the beautiful natural environment in Central and Eastern European Countries.

And products from there are favoured by Chinese consumers. The cooperation goes even deeper, from commodities to technology.

“From the point of view of these countries, they would like to diversify their economic relationships in many ways they focused on Western Europe. As a result, they need to diversify it, and therefore links with China could be very productive for those countries,” said Professor Martin Lockett, Dean of Nottingham University Business School China.

Located in Ning Bo of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, the University was established in 2004. It is also the first Sino-foreign university to open its doors in China.

He also adds that there are still many challenges, which range from cross-cultural understanding, the flow of information to the communication between China and other stakeholders involved.

The investment in Central and Eastern European countries from China increased by over 60 percent in 2018 from what it was a year earlier. A vital sign that shows that great potential lies ahead.