ROPING THEM IN: Latvian President Valdis Zatlers shows the Chinese how to tie up loose ends.
RIGA - President Valdis Zatlers and his delegation’s visit to the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China has increased economic cooperation between the two countries.
Following meetings both in Shenyang and Shanghai, Economy Minister Artis Kampars expressed his satisfaction at the interest expressed by the Chinese side in further developing economic relations with Latvia.
“The goal of Zatlers’ visit has been achieved - more than 200 people from the two countries have met at two business forums, new cooperation directions have been established, new joint projects have been initiated, and they will allow access to new markets for both Chinese and Latvian businesspeople,” said Kampars.
At the same time, several meetings have taken place between high-ranking officials from the two countries, and bilateral agreements have been signed at the state level to promote the further development of economic cooperation.
While in Beijing, the president met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jim Ping. The two reviewed economic cooperation options, highlighting the significant growth in bilateral trade, reports LETA.
Zatlers emphasized that Latvia is interested in further developing ties in the pharmaceuticals, wood processing, food, IT and telecommunications sectors. He forwarded to the Chinese official a “Latvian investment packet,” urging the business community to invest in Latvia’s infrastructure, transportation, logistics, medicine and science.
After their meeting, both observed the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Hipoteka Bank and the Chinese Development Bank that will open doors to major infrastructure projects for strategic investors from China. Signing for the Latvian side: Finance Ministry State Secretary Martins Bicevskis.
The aim of the cooperation agreement is to seek out opportunities for joint cooperation projects, concluding separate agreements for each specific project. The agreement also foresees the exchange of information on trade and commercial opportunities in order to stimulate cooperation between Chinese and Latvian businesspeople who are clients of one or the other bank.
The exchange of information and experience will also take place in the areas of banking and finance, with employees of each bank to be given opportunities to attend seminars and other activities organized by the other party.
Hipoteka banka was founded in 1993, and is 100 percent owned by the Latvian state. The bank’s priority is the supporting of small and medium-sized businesses and the stimulation of economic activity in all regions of Latvia.
The Chinese Development Bank was founded in 1994, and is mainly concerned with providing funding for large-scale infrastructure projects. Since 2007, the bank has also been developing its profile as a commercial lender. At the end of 2008, the bank’s assets totaled the equivalent of 286.6 billion lats (407.8 billion euros)
Zatlers held a press conference in Shanghai after the opening of Latvian National Day at the expo. The president spoke about what Latvians could learn from the Far East giant, mentioning that the Chinese are “very organized, and also forthcoming.”
Zatlers mentioned that he had met many Latvians during his trip who speak Chinese fluently, adding that the potential is tremendous for cooperation between the two countries. The recently-published Chinese-Latvian Dictionary is of great value for future cooperation, he also added.
Kampars also appeared at the press conference and pointed out the need for Latvia to actively cooperate with China, as it is one of the world’s leading export and industrial nations. Latvians can learn a lot from the Chinese in business ventures and conquering markets, the minister added.
Zatlers also addressed issues pertaining to education and the arts, and Xi Jim Ping confirmed his support for the opening of the Confucius Center in Riga, and ensuring a material base for Chinese language teachers. He lauded the recent release of the Chinese-Latvian dictionary.
Education Minister Tatjana Koke at the meeting signed an agreement on mutual certification of higher education documents that would pave the way for student exchanges between Latvia and China.
Speaking at a press conference on Skype, President Valdis Zatlers commented that following his and the Latvian delegation’s China trip, it is also important for Chinese officials in turn to visit Latvia.