Roundup: Central and Eastern European businesses bullish on sales, opportunities in China

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by Xinhua reporters Zhang Yirong and Wang Xinyi

NINGBO, China, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Businesses from Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and beyond have been eyeing a key commerce and trade expo being held this week in eastern China's port city of Ningbo with a view to strengthening economic ties with China and greater opportunities.

Exhibitors and business insiders believe the third China-CEEC Expo and International Consumer Goods Fair, which kicked off Tuesday, opens up prospects for goods and services from the CEEC to tap into the Chinese consumer market. They are also upbeat about China's economic outlook, huge market potential and improving business environment.

The five-day expo has attracted more than 3,000 exhibitors, including over 400 exhibitors from the CEEC and other European countries, who displayed over 5,000 kinds of products ranging from agricultural products, wines and cosmetics to intelligent manufacturing and services trade.

As the guest country of honor, Hungary has 35 companies participating in the expo, intending to leverage the expo as a platform to showcase unique Hungarian products to the Chinese market and strengthen economic and trade ties between the two countries.

China is among the best-performing major economies in the world, which means opportunities for Hungarian companies, Zsanett Ihasz, manager of Chinese relations at the Hungarian Export Promotion Agency, told Xinhua.

The expo, Ihasz said, represents a "remarkable opportunity to showcase Hungary's economic potential and bolster trade relations with China, fostering enduring and mutually advantageous partnerships while contributing to the growth and prosperity of both nations."

Impressed by the growing interest in Hungarian wines among Chinese tourists visiting the Tokaj-Hegyalja region and the positive feedback from distributors, Laszlo Babits, the owner of Babits Winery, known for its Hungarian noble rot wine, told Xinhua reporters in Hungary that China's vast market potential, underpinned by an expanding consumer base and a pursuit of quality life, will open up new prospects for wine sales and stronger business ties.

Similarly, Sun Jinsong, an exhibitor and general manager of Hungarian wine brand Wink's branch in Xiamen, told Xinhua that in addition to the branches in Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, his company has established another branch in Ningbo this year and has been seeking a greater presence in the Chinese market through both online and offline services. It is the third time for Wink to participate in the China-CEEC expo, he added.

Eduard Sebo, president of the United Industries Group, which is among the top three winemakers in Slovakia, expressed his strong interest in the Chinese market and willingness to engage in broader competition.

"China is growing also in the winemaking business," he said. "We need to keep looking over the shoulder of the Chinese winemakers because they have achieved great things and we can learn a lot from them."

Elan, a Slovenian ski manufacturer, is also bullish about the potential of the Chinese market. As a first-time exhibitor, the company, which produces 600,000 skis a year, has set up a ski slope on site to give visitors an immersive experience.

China's ski market has grown rapidly over the past 20 years, and snow and ice sports are a niche in China, particularly in the southern region, said Alice Liang, board chairwoman of Beijing Snowelan Sports Development, Elan's general agency in China. "We hope that this exhibition can be a window of opportunity to better meet the needs of people in the South," she added.

Despodov Desislav Dimitrov, a Bulgarian exhibitor and CEO of Ningbo Baojiahua Biomaterials Co., Ltd., said he is a beneficiary of the favorable business environment in Ningbo and elsewhere in China, as well as enhanced China-CEEC cooperation.

The local government in Ningbo has provided his business and many others with tremendous help in locating sites, opening accounts and reducing rents, Dimitrov said, adding that he was optimistic about the future of biomaterials and green development and was keen to know more about the local market.

"What impressed me most is the ever faster labeling process for imported wines, and ever faster shipments of products due to the excellent logistics environment in China," Liakos Constantinos, co-founder of Hellenic Agora Trading Ltd., a Greek wine importer and distributor in China, told Xinhua.

"I am very upbeat about the Chinese market. Alcohol consumption is closely related to economic prosperity. As the Chinese economy continues to grow, so will our business," Constantinos said.

Also on display at the expo are Czech agri-food businesses selling beer and beef, as well as artware such as crystal cups.

Vojtech Filip, chairman of the board of the Czech-Chinese Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that he was glad that the expo has gradually evolved as "a tradition" and functions as "an important platform" for closer exchanges between European and Chinese enterprises in trade, culture and other fields.

Oleksii Rud, CEO of Polish fintech startup Xpaid, told Xinhua that with the help of blockchain technology, his company tries to facilitate the capital turnover for enterprises by shortening the time for currency transfer in foreign trade.

"There is no doubt that the scale of China's foreign trade is huge, and there are quite a few Chinese warehouse centers near Warsaw. I'm anticipating more information about markets here at the expo and more opportunities for the future development of Xpaid," Rud said. Enditem

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