M. Kučinskis: Synergies between the European Union and China should be further actively pursued
On Saturday 7 July, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis participated in the ‘16 + 1’ Summit of the Heads of Government of Central and Eastern Europe and China in Sofia (Bulgaria).
The theme of this year’s summit - "To deepen open and pragmatic cooperation for inclusive prosperity".
In his address to the participants of the summit, M. Kučinskis pointed out that relations between our countries have become even more dynamic since the ‘16 + 1’ Summit in Rīga. Our regions are becoming closer thanks to more effective ways of bridging longer distances.
"We have to actively work towards effective interconnectivity, including synergy between initiatives of the European Union and China. I call for cooperating with Latvia to ensure flow of goods on the Eurasian continent to and from the countries of Eastern and Northern Europe using combined solutions for rail and maritime transport "said M. Kučinskis.
Transport and logistics are the priority of Latvia's economic cooperation in the ‘16 + 1’ format. The ‘16+1’ Logistics Coordination Secretariat has been operating in Rīga since May 2016.
Furthermore, it was pointed that active work is underway on the strategy for attracting the tourists from China, including the implementation of “China Friendly” training for the tourism and hospitality industry. The number of Chinese tourists in the Baltic region reached almost 60,000 guests last year. In the first quarter of this year, the number of Chinese tourists in Latvia has increased by 22% compared to the previous period.
"Such dynamics convince that the Baltic region has reached sufficient capacity and commercial utility to ensure direct regular air traffic between Latvia and China,” said the Prime Minister.
Latvia regards China as a very important partner and the ‘16 + 1’ format as a good a tool for cooperation with China. It complements both the bilateral dialogue of Latvia and joint EU-China dialogue within the framework of the strategic partnership. At the ‘16+ 1’ summit, it was emphasized that Latvia wants to promote cooperation in the fields of smart specialization, to develop cross-sectoral cooperation and sustainable partnerships for mutual growth. Therefore, we are implementing the strategy of Data-Driven Nation in five areas - the bio economy, biomedicine, smart energy, intelligent materials and ICT. Data-driven innovations and their commercialization are an essential tool for strengthening Latvia's competitiveness and export capacity of high value-added products.
"Given that life sciences are one of the main areas of development of the strategy, I am really pleased that the cooperation project launched last year with the Beijing Genomics Institute, will have a positive outcome this year - the opening of the first specialized department - a laboratory," said M. Kučinskis.
The ‘16+1’ is an initiative of China aimed at intensifying cooperation with 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia) in the fields of investment, transport, finance, science, education, and culture. This is complementary for Latvia to the bilateral dialogue with China and the EU-China dialogue within the framework of the strategic partnership.
The first ‘16+1’ summit was held in 2012 in Warsaw (Poland). In 2016, the ‘16+1’summit of Central and Eastern Europe and China was held in Rīga.
China is the major trading partner of Latvia in the Far East. Since 2012 exports of Latvian goods to China have almost tripled amounting to EUR 131.45 million in 2017 (by 9.25% more than in 2016). The number of Chinese tourists in the Baltic region reached almost 60,000 guests last year. The Latvian authorities are working intensively on attracting Chinese tourists in order to launch direct air traffic between Latvia and China.
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister