China courts CEE states* Romania – unenthusiastic presence, modest projects
Romania’s presence at the Second Ministerial Conference of China and Central and Eastern European Countries on Promoting Trade and Economic Cooperation, an event that took place in Ningbo, China, seemed rather modest.
At least if we look at the fact that none of the announced projects are of scope. Many of the 16+1 states that are making up, for several years now, the format of economic meetings between China and the 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) states went to the large Chinese metropolis of Ningbo (over 7 million people) with the declared ambition of impressing the Chinese economic and financial community. At an exhibition that accompanied the ministerial conference, the Hungarians, Poles and even Serbs presented industrial exhibits and engineering creations. We were present with traditional products (probably traditional rural clothing or other handicrafts).
According to a communique issued by the Romanian Economy Ministry, 5 bilateral cooperation projects were signed in the presence of Deputy Premier Costin Borc (photo), on the margins of the Ministerial Conference of China and Central and Eastern European Countries on Promoting Trade and Economic Cooperation. The projects concern the auto, renewable energy, real-estate and education domains. According to minister Costin Borc, the Romanian and Chinese sides agreed on the construction of an auto parts plant in Brasov, an investment worth EUR 45 M. What kind of auto parts and for what models/types of vehicles, it is not known. We are also told that an agreement was reached on a project in the auto ornaments domain, an investment worth USD 17.6 M. Other projects are: the construction of a 20-MW solar farm in Romania, following an investment of EUR 33 M; investments in the development of residential centres in the Bucharest area, worth EUR 23 M; a project for cooperation and exchange of know-how in the education domain in Hunedoara.
Why didn’t the agreements start with large projects, those that concern investments in road, rail or energy infrastructure? Who is not interested?
At the summit, the Romanian delegation met Chinese Trade Minister Gao Hucheng. The talks centred on the importance of Chinese investments in Romania, considered a known destination for Chinese tourists given the traditional relations between the two states, being at the same time a country that has immense tourism potential: “We will support you on both the tourism and trade plane, so that an ever growing number of Romanian products would reach the Chinese market,” Gao Hucheng stated. He added: “The Government supports all Chinese companies that want to develop rail infrastructure projects, energy projects or tourism projects in Romania. What we want from the Romanian state is better coordination on these projects, bearing in mind that certain companies have already signed investment agreements.” At the same time, the energy projects in which two Chinese companies want to invest were mentioned: the power plant in Rovinari, part of the Oltenia Energy Holding, and the project concerning Cernavoda nuclear plant’s reactors no.3 and no.4.
“On these topics, we hope to have you by our side in Bucharest, in September, when Romania will host the Centre of Dialogue and Cooperation in the Energy Domain, in 16+1 format, China – Central and Eastern Europe,” Costin Borc concluded.
The second edition of the Investment and Trade Exhibition took place at the China – CEE Forum of Cooperation for Development. Around 300 companies from 16 CEE countries and almost 300 Chinese companies took part in the exhibition. Romania was represented by 12 companies that displayed traditional Romanian products, the Romanian Deputy Premier expressing his conviction that Romania’s exhibition stand will play an active role in promoting and diversifying the Romanian products imported in the Ningbo area and in the whole of Zhejiang Province, thus contributing to the development of bilateral relations.