China launches €10 billion fund for Central, Eastern Europe

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaking with the heads of government of Central and Eastern European countries in Riga, Latvia, on Nov 5, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has set up a €10 billion (S$15.4 billion) investment fund to finance projects in Central and Eastern Europe, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said in a statement issued on Sunday (Nov 6).

The China-Central Eastern Europe fund will be run by Sino-CEE Financial Holdings Ltd, a company established by the bank earlier this year.

The company was formally launched by Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Riga on Saturday.

The fund is aiming to raise €50 billion in project finance for sectors such as infrastructure, high-tech manufacturing and consumer goods, the bank said.

While targetting Central and Eastern Europe, it could extend to the rest of Europe and other regions if relevant to China-Central and Eastern Europe co-operation, it said.

The fund will be government-backed but will operate under business principles and be guided by the market, it added.

Central and Eastern Europe are part of China's modern Silk Road where Beijing is hoping to carve out new export markets for its companies as the domestic economy slows.

China's vice-commerce Minister Gao Yan said last year that Chinese companies have already invested more than US$5 billion (S$7 billion) in CEE countries.

But China's push for more investment at the gateway to the European Union comes amid growing calls in top Eurozone economy Germany to restrict Chinese investment in some sectors.

Riga is hosting a summit of leaders from 16 central and eastern European countries and China, a group dubbed "16+1" by Beijing.

China Life Insurance and Fosun Group are also involved in managing the fund, added the statement.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.