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CEE region is Europe's 'new shining spot,' says former ICBC chair

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CEE region is Europe's 'new shining spot,' says former ICBC chair

Central and Eastern Europe is the continent's new "shining spot," and China is eager to deepen ties with the region, the former chair of China's largest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. said.

Jiang Jianqing, chair of SINO-CEEF Capital Management Co., a Chinese private equity firm focused on the CEE region and countries along the Belt and Road initiative, was speaking at the Euromoney Central and Eastern European Forum in Vienna on Jan. 15.

Belt and Road is a Chinese government initiative to develop transport and other infrastructure to deepen regional cooperation and boost transcontinental trade.

China is deepening cooperation with countries in the CEE region, where it sees particularly attractive investment opportunities in tourism, agriculture, consumer goods and manufacturing, he said.

Relations between the CEE economies and China have been a particular focus of Euromoney's annual event in Vienna this year.

Hungary is eager to boost trade with China.

If China is getting "pushback" form the U.S. as a result of the ongoing trade war, then other countries in the CEE region will be happy to pick up some of the slack by increasing co-operation with China, Hungary's minister of state for financial policy affairs, Gábor Gion, said during a panel discussion at the event.

Bilateral trade between Hungary and China came to nearly €8 billion in 2018, and there is "room for more," he added.

China has already established a formal multilateral agreement to boost cooperation in the area of development financing with lenders in the region: Chinese premier Li Keqiang announced the creation of the China-CEEC Interbank Association, made up lenders from 16 countries in the region, in 2017.

Hungary's development bank, MFB Magyar Fejlesztési Bank Zrt., operates a co-ordination center for the association in Budapest.

Speaking on a separate panel, Tamás Bernáth, chairman and CEO of the Hungarian development bank, said that the China-CEEC Interbank Association was "a very important institution" for economic development in Hungary.