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Summit expected to speed up Chinese investments

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Budapest on Sunday ahead of a summit with the heads of government of 16 countries in the region. More than 20 agreements are expected to be signed during the summit, Hungaryʼs state news agency MTI reported.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang dined with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Sunday evening. Photo: Prime Ministerʼs Office/Balázs Szecsődi

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said representatives from more than 1,000 companies - 330 from China, some 300 from Hungary and 340 from other countries in the region - would participate at a business forum in the framework of the China-CEEC (China and Central and Eastern European Countries) summit on Monday. He added that 23 agreements are expected to be signed between participants at the summit, MTI reported.

The Hungarian Export-Import Bank (Magyar Eximbank) is contributing USD 70 million to the "second round" of a fund established by China for investments in the CEE region, which will result in investments of at least USD 140 mln in Hungary, Szijjártó said. The fund is managing USD 1 billion in total, he added.

Magyar Eximbank will sign an agreement on a USD 500 mln credit line from the Export–Import Bank of China. The latter will also establish a EUR 217 mln credit line for developments at Chinese-owned Hungarian chemicals company BorsodChem, while the China Development Bank will set up a EUR 20 mln credit line for further developments at Chinese automotive manufacturer BYDʼs electric bus plant in Komárom (northwest Hungary).

Agreements will also be reached on the possible launch of Hungarian honey and maize exports to China, as well as on the start of a joint MBA program by Shanghaiʼs Fudan University and Neumann János University in Kecskemét, central Hungary.

Szijjártó also noted that a tender will soon be called for an upgrade of the rail line connecting Budapest with the Serbian capital of Belgrade, which is being 85% financed with a loan from Exim Bank of China. Hungary is paying an annual rate of 2.5% on the 20-year loan, he added.

China wants to use the rail line as part of a corridor for the export of goods to Europe. The upgrade of the line in Hungary is expected to cost HUF 550 bln, and could start by the end of 2020, Szijjártó said.

Also on Sunday, Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga participated at round table talks hosted by the Sino-CEE Fund in Budapest, the ministry said. The fundʼs chairman, Jiang Jianqing, and Gordon Brown, the former U.K. prime minister and an adviser to the fund, also spoke at the meeting.