On 12 April 2019 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the 8th summit of Heads of State and Government of Central and Eastern Europe and China (16+1), which discussed future cooperation opportunities between China and Central and Eastern European countries, welcomed Greece as a new participant of the format, and signed bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding.
Edgars Rinkēvičs pointed out that Latvia is actively participating in the 16+1 format, while stressing that we see it as complementary to the EU-China Strategic Partnership. The Minister also congratulated Greece on joining the format.
The Minister stressed that Latvia's priorities in the 16+1 format are connectivity, trade, as well as innovation.
Latvia wants to promote exports to China, which is why it is important to reduce barriers to trade between the EU and China. The recent EU-China summit succeeded in making progress in this area. Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed hope for more rapid progress in the process of certification of Latvian food and pharmaceutical products in China, as well as a desire to promote the development of higher value added goods exports. Given the increasing importance of connectivity, Latvia wants greater synergies with the EU connectivity strategy between Europe and Asia and the “Belt and Road” initiative.
"In terms of connectivity, we focus on three dimensions: physical connectivity, digital and human contacts. Over the years, Latvia has proven to be a reliable, flexible and competitive partner in the provision of a multimodal transport corridor, particularly in the transport of sea and rail containers. We note the growing importance of digital connectivity and welcome the creation of a 16+1 cross-border e-commerce centre in Riga. Connectivity is also important in people's contacts, which includes exchanges of experience in the fields of education, culture and tourism", the minister said. He stressed that in Latvia, direct cargo flights with China will be launched soon, and the next step is a regular direct passenger service. The Minister also invited officials and industry professionals from Central and Eastern Europe to attend the 16+1 High-Level Conference on Tourism in Riga on 22-24 October.
Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasized Latvia's potential for life sciences and innovation. The Minister welcomed the investment project carried out by the subsidiary of the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) in Latvia in the field of life sciences, while also looking forward to the arrival of other Chinese high-tech companies in Latvia.
The plenary session concluded with the adoption of a final document entitled “Dubrovnik Guidelines”. The plenary session was followed by a formal ceremony that was held for the signing of bilateral agreements and memorandum of understanding, in which Latvia signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) and the municipality of the city of Ningbo (China) on e-commerce cooperation.
At the same time as the summit of 16+1 Heads of Government, the 9th Business Forum of the Central and Eastern European countries and China (16+1) was held, in which Latvian companies also participated.
The cooperation format for Central and Eastern European (CAE) countries and China (16+1) aims to activate Chinese cooperation with 11 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary) and five Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) in the field of transport, finance, science, education, culture and other. The next 16+1 Heads of Government summit will take place in China in 2020, already in the 17+1 format.
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