China cannot be ignored, Fico says

CHINA offers enormous trade opportunities and therefore cannot be overlooked, Prime Minister Robert Fico said after the meeting with leaders of the Central and Eastern European countries and China held in Bucharest on November 26.

CHINA offers enormous trade opportunities and therefore cannot be overlooked, Prime Minister Robert Fico said after the meeting with leaders of the Central and Eastern European countries and China held in Bucharest on November 26.

“This meeting confirms the enormous importance of China as a trade partner,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Fico said that also a business delegation featuring approximately 30 companies came to the meeting. Beijing, according to him, is interested in the import of quality food products and technologies.

Participants in the summit agreed on annual meetings between representatives of 16 CEE countries and Chinese officials.

“Today, on behalf of the Slovak Republic, we passed the rules regulating our cooperation,” Fico said, as quoted by TASR.

Fico also pointed out that it is often impossible for individual CEE states to seek cooperation to such a large country on their own. Because of this, Beijing set up a secretariat for cooperation with the CEE that is listed under the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry’s website.

Fico also said that all states are likely to benefit from shared information pool and special loans for the region worth $10 billion (€7.3 billion), allocated by China last year in Warsaw.

“The only problem emerging here is that China demands state guarantees for these loans, thus they are more suitable for the private sector,” he told TASR. “What we are doing now is trying to convince them to soften these conditions.”

Another phase is the establishment of $500-million Investment Fund in Luxembourg. Though Slovakia will not get directly involved, it will offer cooperation via a special investment holding created in Slovakia from EU money. The resources of the fund as well as loans could be used on various infrastructure projects.

When asked whether any of the leaders broached the issue of violation of human rights in China during the summit, Fico said that every state official, president or prime minister, no matter how powerful and influential, always walks down the red carpet in Beijing and seeks business opportunities, TASR reported.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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