BEIJING: As projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proceed as scheduled despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are becoming a driving force for economic and trade cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), industry experts and analysts said on Sunday.
Infrastructure buildup is attracting more investment into CEECs and providing jobs to local communities, as it paves up the hardware for trade and economic cooperation, Chinese analysts have said, ahead of the second China-CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair. The expo, held in East China’s Ningbo, aims to promote China-CEEC trade by showcasing CEEC products, report agencies.A number of high-level infrastructure projects are being pushed ahead despite the pandemic.
In Croatia, Chinese engineers are working at Croatia’s Peljesac Bridge project. “As we manage to overcome the difficulties brought by the pandemic and keep its impact at the minimum, the project is 85.45 percent complete, with 113 steel box girders being installed,” a manager on the site told the Global Times on Sunday.
The Peljesac Bridge and access roads project, the biggest transportation infrastructure project between China and Croatia, connects the Croatian peninsula Peljesac with the Croatian mainland. The project is being constructed by Chinese infrastructure giant China Communications Construction Co (CCCC) and is expected to greatly improve connectivity for local residents as they don’t need to cross national borders to travel once the bridge is completed.
At Serbia’s E763 highway project - another BRI project contracted by CCCC, a manager at the project site told the Global Times on Sunday they developed and executed a plan to store three-month-worth of epidemic control materials and essential goods at the project’s site to minimize the impact of the pandemic.
The China-Europe cargo freight train has also been gaining momentum as the pandemic disrupted production in Europe and gave an unexpected boost to e-commerce.
Liu Ying, research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that seen from her field studies, the cargo freight train service had taken advantage of the post-virus transportation with soaring sea freight rates and is now being increasingly used by merchants who want to book shipment capacity to Europe amidst an economic recovery.In June 2020, a direct link by China Europe cargo train connected Chongqing in Southwest China with Budapest, Hungary.
In addition to roads and bridges and railway connection, direct air link between China and CEECs has also seen an increasing trend.
In May 2021, Zhengzhou in Central China’s Henan Province added a direct air link with Budapest. The direct air link connection will include five weekly flights, with each flight carrying up to 17 tons of goods including jewelry, sportswear and gardening tools.
The addition of the new airlink and an affiliated local truck delivery network are making delivery of goods from China more efficient to destination, cutting time by 20 percent and cost by 5 percent, according to media reports.