We [Latvia] are interesting to China not just because of our geographical location, but also because of the possibilities for bilateral cooperation for China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. One such format is 16+1, said Transport Ministry’s industry attaché Helmut Kohl.
«At the end of last year, it was decided at the summit of Eastern and Western European leaders in Suzhou that China can find common ground with countries taking part in the 16+1 format in relation to infrastructure development and connectivity and joint economic development. Those three points are part of China’s vision for cooperation in the region. In regards to direct investments, representations and joint companies, China’s economic activity has been low in Latvia and Baltic States in general in the past 25 years. Trade is active, of course, but it is as unbalanced as it is with any other country China works with,» – the ministry’s representative told Dienas Bizness.
«China knows that consumption and its economic growth have both declined. Changes are being done there. By forming multilateral cooperation, the government has begun working with potential growth regions. They view Latvia as a place where it is possible to carry out business and investments. Last year, China put the Baltic region on the road map. It was a monumental turn of events, because previously China viewed this region as a place located somewhere behind the Iron Curtain. The road map approved at the Suzhou summit also complies with the decision of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Economic planning in China is centralized and is based on five-year plans. Suzhou road map is the main motivator that has allowed China, its central apparatus and municipalities to notice the Baltic region. China associated this region with the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. This gives us confidence that One Belt, One Road initiative will likely develop in this direction. 16+1 format will help countries with smaller economies, population or territory size to participate in China’s initiative. This format offers the possibility of our voice being heard. As part of the 16+1 format, Latvia will be able to develop its transport and logistics sector and create a logistics secretariat. Its first event took place in Riga earlier this year with participation from foreign businessmen,» – said Kohl.
According to him, «Latvian Transport Ministry created new posts in 2016 – transport attaché in China and Kazakhstan. The main duty of a transport attaché is to maintain contact with Beijing, which is the headquarters for Chinese government, largest state companies and private companies. My objective is to enhance existing contacts, find new contacts and come up with new ways of presenting Latvia and its investment opportunities to China».