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China Unveils US$10-billion Credit Line for Central, Eastern Europe

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Source: AFP

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced Thursday a US$10-billion special credit line for central and eastern Europe to support cooperation projects mainly in the ex-communist region’s infrastructure sector.

“To boost practical cooperation with central and east European countries, the Chinese government has decided to set up a US$10 billion special credit line,” Wen told thousands of delegates at a major China-Central Europe economic forum in Warsaw.

They will include “a certain amount of concessional loans to support cooperation projects in infrastructure, high and new technologies and ‘green’ economy.”

The Chinese leader, who is winding up a four-nation European tour with earlier stops in Iceland, Germany and Sweden, also announced plans for a US$500-million fund to help Chinese business ventures in the region.

“China will set up a China-Central and Eastern Europe fund for investment cooperation and our goal is to raise US$500 million for the fund in the first stage,” Wen added in a joint address with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Analysts in Warsaw say the cash-laden Chinese are eager to capitalise the region’s stability, growth and competitive prices to gain “perfect access to the west European market” ‒ still Beijing’s top export destination.

Pointing out that China’s two-way trade with central and eastern Europe “rose from only US$4.3 billion in 2001 to US$52.9 billion in 2011, growing at an average annual rate of 27.6 per cent,” Wen said Beijing wanted to see bilateral trade reach US$100 billion by 2015.

Thursday’s trade forum gathered 300 Chinese firms and 450 companies from across the region in Warsaw.

Two dozen free-Tibet protesters and supporters of China’s outlawed Falun Gong group meanwhile rallied in front of the forum venue at a hotel in central Warsaw as the meeting got underway.

Wen was also due to meet 16 prime ministers from the region in Warsaw later Thursday.