Compared with some other European countries, Latvia’s economic cooperation with China is lagging behind. Although, the 16+1 summit in Riga may yet change this situation drastically, Foreign Affairs Ministry’s State secretary Andrejs Pildegovics told Latvijas Radio on 4 November.
Pildegovics added that Latvia has put a lot of effort to prepare for this summit, because the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang can be considered a diplomatic accomplishment.
«I believe the summit is the most important event for Baltic States, because nothing like that has ever happened here. We – Lithuania, Poland and Estonia – have a rare opportunity to attract China’s attention. If we manage to do everything properly, we will benefit from it greatly,» – Pildegovics said.
He added that Latvia’s economic cooperation with China, unlike Hungary and Poland, is currently in the state of catching up. Nevertheless, the forum can become a turning point for economic relations.
Latvian companies will be visited by foreign businessmen on Friday. There will also be bilateral meetings. The forum will gather leaders of 18 participating countries and 750 high-rank state and business representatives. LIAA notes that the forum will be a good platform for establishment of mutual cooperation among countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China.
According to Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens, Latvia’s priority will be establishment of cooperation in the field of transports. «Because representatives from Belarus will be taking part in the business forum as observers, it will be important for Latvia to speak about matters associated with the transportation of Chinese cargoes from the Great Stone logistics centre in Belarus to Latvia. It is also planned to discuss development of cooperation in aviation, including the possibility of servicing direct flights between China and Latvia. This would help further develop tourism,» – Aseradens said.
The minister mentioned that Latvia is visited by approximately 13,000-15,000 tourists from China, which is not a lot. Establishing direct flights between the two countries may help triple this number. Aseradens added that Riga may reach an agreement with Visa and Mastercard’s counterpart in China – Union Pay – to introduce payment options in Latvia to help Chinese tourists perform transactions in Latvia using a system familiar to them.
During the 16+1 business forum, it is planned to discuss cooperation with China’s e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which is a Chinese equivalent of Amazon and Ebay.
Aseradens added that the business forum will also address the matter of attracting investments from China. «Chinese companies are already looking for opportunities for cooperation with Riga port. There are also other projects planned in the field of transports and logistics. Chinese investors may also be interested in production of goods in Latvia. Multiple companies have expressed interest in founding business in Latvia,» – added the economy minister.