On 11 July, Beijing hosted the Meeting of National Coordinators for Cooperation between the Central and Eastern European Countries and China (the ‘16+1’ format). The National Coordinator for Latvia, State Secretary of the Latvian Foreign Ministry Andrejs Pildegovičs, took part in the event and also met with Vice Foreign Minister of China, Wang Chao.
The National Coordinators shared views on the results of the Meeting of Heads of Government held in Riga in 2016, including the implementation of the Riga Guidelines. The participants also discussed preparations for the next summit in Budapest at the end of this year. The coordinators presented the progress made and mapped out priorities for further cooperation in the 16+1 format, while recognising that the vast majority of the measures outlined in the Riga Guidelines have already been put into practice.
During a bilateral conversation, State Secretary Andrejs Pildegovičs and the Vice Foreign Minister of China, Wang Chao, discussed mutual cooperation highlighting in particular Latvia’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. The parties confirmed their intention to go ahead with a sustained, dynamic and pragmatic political dialogue and an active exchange of visits at all levels.
The State Secretary and the Vice Foreign Minister mentioned the most important ones: the official visits to Latvia by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, in November 2016 and by Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, in April 2017, as well as the participation of Uldis Augulis, Minister of Transport of Latvia, in the Road and Belt Forum in Beijing in May 2017 and the upcoming participation of Dace Melbārde, Minister of Culture of Latvia, in the CEEC-China Culture Cooperation Forum in Hangzhou in September 2017. The meeting also addressed topics of current importance in regional and security policies.
Latvia has been active in the 16+1 format since its establishment in 2012, and cooperation with China has intensified considerably over this time, especially in terms of economic contacts: the export of Latvian goods to China has more than tripled, rising from EUR 46.5 million to EUR 119 million. China is currently the major economic cooperation partner to Latvia in the Far East. In 2016, the overall trade in goods amounted to EUR 520.5 million.
Latvia’s priorities in this cooperation are transport and logistics, tourism and trade promotion. The countries working together with China in the 16+1 format are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
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