China has set up a new financial holding company to promote China-made equipment and products by helping finance joint projects in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
The Industry and Commerce Bank of China (ICB), China's largest commercial bank, said in a statement Sunday that the China-Central Eastern Europe fund will be run by Sino-CEE Financial Holdings Ltd with an overall investment of 10 billion euros ($11.15 billion). The China Daily website reported that two other banks will also participate in the funding, but the ICB will take the lead. The fund was officially inaugurated Saturday by Premier Li Keqiang and his Latvian host and counterpart Maris Kucinskis after the 5th Meeting of Heads of Government between China and 16 CEE countries -- what Beijing calls the "16+1" framework -- in Latvia's capital Riga.
Li is currently on an official visit to the Baltic country. China Daily reported that the company would focus on projects in connectivity and production capacity cooperation that will purchase China-made equipment and products. In 2013, China announced it would offer CEE countries $10 billion in loans, aiming to boost production capacity and infrastructure cooperation with the region. Li originally touted the fund during the 4th annual China-CEEC leaders' meeting in Suzhou, in China's Jiangsu province in November.
On Saturday, Li was quoted as saying: "China has signed a memorandum of understanding with Poland and Czech to make contributions to the financial holding company and other CEE countries are welcome to join us". His trip marks the first time a Chinese premier has visited Latvia since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The visit is the third stop of Li's ongoing eight-day Eurasia tour, which has already seen him visit Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and will conclude in Russia.
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