On 5 November, Riga will host the annual Meeting of Heads of Government of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and China in the 16+ 1 format to be chaired by the Prime Minister of Latvia Māris Kučinskis.
At the meeting, Prime Ministers will adopt a final document drafted by the Latvian side – the Riga Guidelines – which presents activities in the 16+ 1 format in 2017 as well as the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea Initiative involving cooperation with China for the development of ports in these three seas and transport corridors connecting them. The 16+ Investment Fund will also be inaugurated during the meeting. Transport and logistics being Latvia’s priority in the 16+ 1 format, the government has brought forward for signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Latvian Ministry of Transport and the National Development and Reform Commission of China on cooperation between industrial parks in ports.
The first test train from the city of Yiwu in China is also expected to arrive in Latvia on 5 November. This container train left for Latvia on 21 October and will have spent 15 days en route. The outcome of a joint effort by Latvia and China, the project was conceived this past July when Latvia’s national railroad company VAS Latvijas Dzelzceļš and China’s Railway Corporation signed a protocol of intent on cooperation in the development of the China Railway Express from China to Europe.
A 16+ 1 Business Forum will also be held back-to-back with the summit and bring together more than 650 business people, including 250 representatives from China’s finance, investment, trade and tourism sectors. Latvia will be represented by 250 businessmen. A 16+1 conference of think-tanks and a sinologists’ conference will also take place in parallel.
“16+1” or the format for cooperation between the Central and Eastern European countries and China comprises China and 16 European countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The idea behind the format is to intensify cooperation in the field of investments, transport, finance, science, education and culture. The present summit is already the fifth meeting of prime ministers; the previous one took place in Suzhou, China.
The 16+1 Meeting of Heads of Government coincides with the official visit to Latvia by the Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang, who is to meet with the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Saeima (the Latvian Parliament).
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