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Fico meets Chinese PM

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.

Following the meeting Fico also had a bilateral meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to discuss the possibilities of intensifying economic cooperation, mutual investment opportunities and support for common trade projects.

“This meeting confirms the enormous importance of China as a trade partner,” said Fico, who only days previously met US President Barack Obama, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Fico said that a business delegation featuring approximately 30 companies also 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.

Fico also pointed out that it is often impossible for individual CEE states to seek cooperation with such a large country on their own. Because of this, Beijing set up a secretariat for cooperation with the CEE that is listed on the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry website. Fico also said that all states are likely to benefit from a 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 a $500 million investment fund in Luxembourg. Though Slovakia will not be 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 human rights violations in China during the summit, Fico responded that every state official, president or prime minister, no matter how powerful and influential, always walks down the red carpet in Beijing seeking business opportunities, TASR reported.

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