25 Desember 2014

[251214.EN.BIZ] China Signs Agreement to Build Belgrade-Budapest Railway Link

CHINA, Serbia and Hungary have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new 370 kilometre rail link between Belgrade and Budapest with construction work expected to start by the middle of next year.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic made the announcement at a summit in Belgrade between China and 16 Central and Eastern European states.

The construction of the new rail link will help China to pursue its plans to accelerate the flow of goods through the Balkans.

"This will put in place a corridor between China and Europe," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said after the signing ceremony. "With more express lanes, the scale of our trade will be greater. We are confident we will complete this within two years."

The rail upgrade fits with China's plan to turn Greece's main port of Piraeus into a regional hub for trade with Europe. Notably, Chinese shipping giant Cosco Pacific holds a 35-year concession to upgrade and run two container cargo piers at Piraeus.

The rail programme was first agreed a year ago, but it remains unclear how it will be financed, according to Reuters.

But Mr Li said China would create a US$3 billion investment fund for Central and Eastern Europe, seeking to strengthen its foothold in the region.

"We are dedicated to this project," the Serbian Prime Minister said following talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban. "Our aim is for the feasibility study and all plans to be completed by June next year so that the railway could be built by June 2017," he said.

He added that the upgrade would cut train travel times between Belgrade and Budapest from eight hours to under three.

Source : HKSG.

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