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China plays big role in deal signed during 16+1 summit

CCTV.com

11-07-2016 06:19 BJT

Full coverage: Premier Li Visits Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia

A deal for a new high speed railway line between the Serbian capital Belgrade and the Hungarian capital Budapest was signed during the 16+1 Summit. Serbian officials say the contract will boost the region’s economic growth, and one of China’s largest transport firms will be involved.

Premier Li Keqiang (left, second) and his Latvian counterpart jointly launch a financial joint venture Sino-CEEF Holdings Co Ltd in Riga, Latvia, on November 5, 2016. [Photo: gov.cn]

Premier Li Keqiang (left, second) and his Latvian counterpart jointly launch a financial joint venture Sino-CEEF Holdings Co Ltd in Riga, Latvia, on November 5, 2016. [Photo: gov.cn]

Amongst the many agreements signed in Latvia on Saturday, this appears to have been at least one of the biggest. Commercial contracts were signed — and some financing secured — for a 500 kilometer-long high speed railway to link Belgrade and Budapest. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made special mention of the project during his speech at the 16+1 summit.

“We would like to promote the development of Budapest — Belgrade rail link and China — Europe land-sea express line so as to forge transport arteries running through the CEE region. We also support the development of transport corridors between Asia and Europe: we want to increase China — Europe freight train services,” Li said.

The current line has an end to end journey time of some eight hours. The vision is for a passenger  and freight route that could cut that to just two and a half.

On top of that, a U.S.$233.6m agreement that will see a Chinese firm involved in redeveloping a highway between Serbia and Montengero. No detailed timelines have emerged publicly yet, but Serbian officials seem keen to get started.

“Serbia is a small country, it has its very good position in this area. It has some benefits from the project that can be implemented —all the transportation, infrastructural projects are benefitting, not just the economy of Serbia but the region itself as a whole,” said Danijela Cabarkapa, director of Servian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The total value of contracts signed between Serbia and China on Saturday came to U.S.$800m. Belgrade sees such investments in infrastructure projects as a way to boost its own economic growth and access international markets, including China’s.

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