Fourth Local Leaders' Meeting of the Central and East European countries and China “16+1”

Saturday, 20 October 2018

The meeting was held in the National Palace of Culture on October 20, 2018 under the motto “Global Thinking, Local Action”. It was organized by the Ministry of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018 and the Regional Governor of Sofia Region in partnership with Sofia Municipality, the National Association of the Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria, the National Palace of Culture, the Secretariat for Cooperation between China and CEE Countries, the CEEC-China Association of Provincial Governors and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

The event took place only 3 months after the 7th “16+1” Summit that was held in Sofia on July 7, 2018. The aim of the forum is to further develop and build on the achieved results and arrangements made at the Summit, during which were also outlined "The Sofia Guidelines".

The discussions were focused on the development of cooperation in the fields of tourism, agriculture, industrial and demonstration zones and parks, small and medium-sized enterprises. 22 Bulgarian municipalities have already been twinned with 32 urban agglomerations, cities and provinces of the People's Republic of China while the capital of Bulgaria is becoming an increasingly attractive tourist destination. The number of foreign tourists increased by 15 % in 2017 and for the first 8 months of 2018 – by 3 % as the total number of tourists was 905 375. The total number of overnight stays was 1 622 142 – an increase of almost 2%. The number of nights spent by Chinese tourists increased by 25 %. Sofia is the third city in Europe with the largest increase in the number of tourists for the period 2009-2016.- 9.4%. The Chinese tourists are in 13th place with an increase of 25%. Sofia is among the top 10 cities in the world in terms of startup companies and is an attractive center for more and more major IT companies. Sofia is among the top 10 best-performing cities in Europe in the Milken Institute’s Index.

Bulgaria has already hosted two local leaders’ forums – the 3rd Working meeting of the CEEC-China Association of Provincial Governors held in Plovdiv on October 19, 2017 and the 1st Meeting of the Mayors of the Capitals of the CEECs and China in Sofia on September 27, 2016.