Full Text: The Sofia Guidelines for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-16 15:51:18|Editor: xuxin
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BEIJING, July 16 (Xinhua) -- China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) issued a guideline for their cooperation at a recent summit in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

The following is the full text of the Sofia Guidelines for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries:

On July 7, 2018, the 7th Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (hereinafter referred to as "CEECs") was held in Sofia, Bulgaria. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of the Republic of Bulgaria, Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Prime Minister Edi Rama of the Republic of Albania, Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of Republic of Croatia, Prime Minister Andrej Babis of the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Juri Ratas of the Republic of Estonia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis of the Republic of Latvia, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of the Republic of Macedonia, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic of Montenegro, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila of Romania, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic of the Republic of Serbia, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini of the Slovak Republic, Prime Minister Miro Cerar of the Republic of Slovenia, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin of the Republic of Poland and Minister of Finance Vilius Sapoka of the Republic of Lithuania attended the meeting. They expressed appreciation and gratitude to Bulgaria for the efforts it had made as the host country to ensure the success of the meeting. Austria, Belarus, the European Union (EU), Greece, Switzerland, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development were present as observers.

The Participants note the progress and achievements of China-CEEC cooperation (hereinafter referred to as "16+1 Cooperation") and the implementation of the Budapest Guidelines for Cooperation between China and CEECs and are convinced that 16+1 Cooperation across various fields is on the way to becoming a practical and beneficial cross-regional cooperation platform.

The Participants remain committed to the principles of mutual respect, mutually beneficial cooperation and building an open world economy, making economic globalization more dynamic, inclusive and sustainable. They further reaffirm their commitment to develop cooperation in the spirit and according to the principles of the UN Charter.

The Participants underline that 16+1 Cooperation constitutes an important part of and a positive complementary to the relationship between China and the EU and that they are ready to work together, through this format and in line with their respective competences and existing commitments to ensure that China-EU relations continue to develop in a balanced way. The Participants are ready to actively implement the Belt and Road cooperation MOUs that they signed to bring more results to this cooperation while maintaining its openness, based on market rules and international norms which, on the part of EU member states would also complement relevant EU policies and projects.

The Participants reiterate that they will cooperate on the basis of willingness, transparency, inclusiveness, reciprocity, fairness and mutual benefit through consultation and cooperation, which will contribute to the achievement of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, within the applicable norms of international law, and in accordance with the laws, regulations and respective competences of each other and EU standards and policies for EU member states and candidate countries.

EU member states and candidate countries within the 16 CEECs support the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of peace, growth, reform and civilization and EU-China Agenda 2020, including actively promoting practical cooperation through pilot projects in the framework of the EU-China Connectivity Platform , the Investment Plan for Europe and the extended Trans-European Network (TEN-T) and supporting the conclusion of an ambitious and comprehensive Agreement on Investment between the EU and China.

The Participants, acting upon the spirit of the Medium Term Agenda and past Summit Guidelines, formulate and issue the Sofia Guidelines for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries with "Deepening open and pragmatic cooperation for inclusive prosperity" as its theme.

1. The Participants support Croatia in hosting the 8th China-CEEC Summit.

2. Strengthening 16+1 coordination

(1) The Participants support the Secretariat for China-CEEC Cooperation in strengthening coordination together with relevant departments of China and CEECs so as to further improve the system and structure of cooperation.

(2) China will invite National Coordinators of the 16 CEECs to visit China and attend 16+1 National Coordinators' Meeting during the first half of 2019. Croatia will hold 16+1 National Coordinators' Meeting during the second half of the year.

(3) The Participants support continuing to hold meetings between the Secretariat for 16+1 Cooperation and CEEC Embassies in China and strengthening its communication with associations and coordination centers in various fields. The Participants encourage the Secretariat to conduct 16+1 cooperation consultations in China and CEECs through bilateral and multilateral activities. The Participants support website building for China-CEEC cooperation to provide more accessible information to institutions, companies and people in our countries.

The Participants recognize the need to conduct a review of existing 16+1 cooperation mechanisms and meetings to ensure efficient use of administrative resources of Participants and a more focused, result oriented approach.

(4) The Participants will explore the possibility of conducting exchanges and cooperation in areas such as international law and training for civil servants.

(5) Participants will organize activities within the framework of 16+1 cooperation in relation to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and some CEEC countries.

(6) The Participants welcome the constructive role of observers and other third countries and institutions in 16+1 cooperation, and their potential involvement on the basis of prior consultation and consensus by all Participants.

3. Deepening Practical Cooperation in Trade, Investment and Connectivity.

While welcoming the growing cooperation in trade between China and CEECs and China's recent efforts to improve market access and investment environment, the Participants recognize the need to develop a more balanced economic partnership, in the case of WTO members in compliance with WTO rules, based on the principles of level-playing field and equal opportunities. The Participants will examine possibilities of practical cooperation in trade in services and e-commerce.

(1) The Participants support the participation of enterprises and institutions from CEECs in the 2nd China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in 2019 which aims at increasing exports to China. The Participants commend the establishment of the CEEC exhibition pavilion in Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and support Chinese cities such as Shenyang in building similar platforms. The Participants encourage more Chinese cities and provinces to set 16+1 economic cooperation and trade demonstration zones. China welcomes more CEEC investors' participation in the building of the Hainan Free Trade Port to share in the development opportunities. The Participants encourage the aforementioned platforms and relevant enterprises to take effective measures in promoting trade facilitation between China and CEECs.

(2) The 5th China-CEEC Investment and Trade Expo will be held in Ningbo in June 2019.

(3) The Participants support continuing the meeting of the China-CEEC Investment Promotion Agencies Contact Mechanism in Poland.

(4) The Participants welcome a more active role by the China-CEEC Business Council in Poland in promoting cooperation in trade and investment between China and CEECs and support making the council meeting a regular mechanism. The fifth meeting of China-CEEC Business Council will be held in 2019.

(5) The Participants are willing to strengthen the building of China-EU Connectivity Platform. The Participants agree to promote projects within the Platform on the basis of level playing field, market rules and international norms so as to create a favorable environment where investment in transport is fair and open.

(6) The Participants recognize the importance of open, transparent and non-discriminatory procurement procedures. The Participants support China's accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement.

(7) The Participants will further promote container block trains services and combined mode transport solutions, while strengthening cooperation in customs clearance facilitation in the China-Europe Land Sea Express Line to increase the efficiency of border-crossing management and shorten waiting time on border crossings. Inter alia, the use of existing complementary capabilities offered by CEECs and ensuring of smooth flow of traffic in the presence of constantly increasing number of trains.

(8) The Participants welcome the important progress that has been made by China, Serbia and Hungary on the Belgrade-Budapest railway project and are willing to explore the possible extension of the connection between Belgrade-Budapest railway and the Albanian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Slovenian ports, taking note of the Three Seas Initiative proposed by relevant countries. The Participants support moving forward practical cooperation in the development of the China-Europe Land Sea Express Line. The Participants welcome similar infrastructure development cooperation by enterprises from the 17 countries to develop routes of China-Europe Land Sea Express Line and the container block trains services.

(9) The Participants are willing to foster synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and its extension to the Western Balkans and the relevant neighborhood initiatives, which would be of benefit to European integration. Coordination on economic cooperation and connectivity between initiatives, including China-CEEC Cooperation, EU-China Connectivity Platform and EU Eastern Partnership, will provide opportunities for deepening cooperation among interested parties.

(10) China, Hungary, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia will hold the 5th Working Group Meeting and Experts Seminar on Customs Clearance Facilitation Cooperation on China-Europe Land and Sea Express in 2019.

China and the CEECs that are Member States of the EU will cooperate within the structures of the EU-China Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters and of the EU-China Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation. Eligible CEECs are encouraged to take part in the China-EU Smart and Secure Trade Lanes Pilot Project. China and CEECs are ready to further strengthen cooperation in customs clearance facilitation. The cooperation in customs between China and CEECs will take place within the constraints of their respective competences.

(11) The China-CEEC Customs Cooperation Forum will be held in Poland in 2019.

(12) The 4th China-CEEC Transport Ministers' Meeting will be held in 2019 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(13) The Participants continue to support conducting civil aviation cooperation including expanding air connections between China and CEECs. The 1st CEEC-China Civil Aviation Forum will be held in the Czech Republic in 2019.

(14) The Participants welcome China and CEECs' cooperation on various types of infrastructure investments.

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