• Zhang Gaoli, China's vice premier, visited Albania as part of his five-leg Eurasia tour.

Zhang Gaoli, China's vice premier, visited Albania as part of his five-leg Eurasia tour. (Photo : Getty Images)

On Monday, China and Albania announced that they will be expanding their partnerships that are under the Belt and Road initiative and the 16+1 Framework featuring China and Central and Easter European (CEE) countries, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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The agreement, which was made during the visit of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli to the Balkan country, covers China-Albania cooperation in areas of agriculture, infrastructure, tourism as well as production capacity.

According to Zhang, Albania's strategic geographic location in southeast Europe is advantageous for China.

"China is willing to conduct more substantial cooperation with Albania taking the country's features and actual needs into consideration under the Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 mechanism," Zhang remarked when he met with Albanian President Bujar Nishani.

The Chinese vice premier urged that the two countries should sign an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding regarding the Belt and Road initiative in order to get more fruitful benefits.

The landmark endeavor was first proposed by China in 2013. It aims to enliven the ancient Silk Road trading routes by establishing a trade and infrastructure network linking Asia, Europe and Africa.

Meanwhile, during Zhang's meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, he noted that China desires to align its development strategy with Albania's. 

The Chinese official further suggested that both countries should expand the scales of their two-way trade and investment. He said that the local government is set out to import more Albanian products such as olive oil and encourage more businesses to invest in Albania.

For infrastructure and energy projects, China expressed commitment to helping Albania in building roads, hydro-electric power stations and economic development zones. Partnerships between people-to-people exchanges, film-making, tourism and education will also be fostered, Zhang noted.

Albanian President Nishani believes that strengthening the China-Albania cooperation will be important to the growth of his country. The ties between the two nations were first established in Nov. 1949, around a month after the People's Republic of China was founded.

Data from China's Ministry of Commerce shows that the bilateral trade volume between the two hit $636 million last year. Currently, Albania considers China as its major trade partner and prime source of investments.

Regarding the 16+1 mechanism, Zhang said that China appreciates Albania's long-standing support to the framework that was created in April 2012. 

Last November, the Asian giant and the CEE countries agreed to deepen their ties in terms of economy and trade, education, science and technology, culture, forestry, agriculture, local governments, logistics and e-commerce.

Zhang's trip to Albania was part of his five-leg Eurasia tour covering Moscow; Tallinn, Estonia; and Astana, Kazakhstan.