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China and Central and Eastern European Countries within ’16+1’: Group or Bilateral Relations?



Objective: The article focuses on developments within the ’16+1’ initiative: It aims to analyse whether the relations between China and CEECs are more multilateral or bilateral in nature and discuss the implications for business.

Research Design & Methods: We review the literature on the ‘16+1’, overview international trade and investment between CEECs and China, development of institutional framework and examine the case of China-Slovenia economic relations in greater detail.

Findings: Highly intensive diplomatic relationships since the establishment of the initiative in 2012 have evolved into deeper, though unbalanced economic relations, resulting in net trade deficit and high concentration in trade and investment.

Implications & Recommendations: Formally multilateral platform, ‘16+1’, kept the trade policies and business strategies predominantly still within bilateral relations strategies of national countries. Multilateralising the ‘16+1’ remains an opportunity for CEECs and the EU. Secondly, in most countries strong bilateral cooperation with China is a part of efforts to diversify their international economic cooperation and a catching up process parallel with the growing role of China in the global economy.

Contribution & Value Added: Monitoring trade and investments between CEECs and China provides insights to describe CEECs patterns of economic globalisation, institutional framework for entrepreneurship and information how the ’16+1’ has influenced globalisation patterns in the EU trade and investment, rethinking of EU-China cooperation and competition and cooperation among CEECs.



CEE, 16 1; China, trade; FDI, trade policy, One Belt One Road



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