BEIJING (Reuters) - China has set up a 10 billion euro ($11.15 billion) investment fund to finance projects in Central and Eastern Europe, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China 601398.SS1398.HK said in a statement issued on Sunday.
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, Latvia, on Saturday.
The fund is aiming to raise 50 billion euros in project finance for sectors such as infrastructure, high-tech manufacturing and consumer goods, the bank said.
While targeting 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 project where Beijing is hoping to carve out new export markets for its companies as the domestic economy slows.
“China has the advantage of cost-effective equipment and capacity while Central and Eastern European countries need to raise the level of industrialisation,” said Premier Li in a speech reported by state news agency Xinhua.
But financing is a major challenge, he added, calling for diversified project financing channels to include institutions such as Beijing’s Silk Road Fund.
Li also called for more co-operation on ‘green economy’ projects, such as wind and solar farms, and said China was keen to import high-quality farm goods.
China’s Vice Commerce Minister Gao Yan said last year that Chinese companies have already invested more than $5 billion in central and eastern European 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.
($1 = 0.8973 euros)
Reporting by Ma Rong and Dominique Patton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Christian Schmollinger
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