The Slovenia Times

Cerar attending 16+1 summit in China


He is also due to hold talks with the host, Chinese Premier Li Kequang.

The summit, focusing on development, will be the fourth of the format to date, but the first hosted by China. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that leaders of all 16 European countries will be in attendance to discuss efforts to boost cooperation and development with the host.

The central and eastern European countries included in the initiative are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia.

The summit in the historic town which lies some 100 kilometres north-west of Shanghain will feature a business forum, while the leaders will also be received by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The 16+1 format was launched at the initiative of China as a means of bolstering economic cooperation, especially in infrastructure and energy, science, culture, education and tourism, with the region stretching from the Baltics to the Balkans.

As a means of promoting ties with these countries, the Asian powerhouse is currently preparing a EUR 500m investment fund that will finance projects in the priority areas.

The last summit a year ago focused on expanding areas of cooperation, with China telling its partners it was willing to provide assistance in the promotion of development and construction of infrastructure.

At the time Cerar said Slovenia presented Chinese investors with an investment destination boasting a high quality of life, well-educated workforce, access to third markets and highly-developed infrastructure.

As part of his attendance of the summit, Cerar is scheduled to meet Slovenian expatriates in Suzhou and Beijing, while also visiting the Beijing University of Foreign Studies, where he is due to deliver a lecture.

The university plans to introduce Slovenian language studies as a standard course in the 2017/18 academic year, building on cooperation established with the University of Ljubljana back in 2009.

This will be the second high-level visit by a Slovenian official to China, after Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Dejan Židan visited China earlier in the month to conclude an all-important agreement which allows Slovenia to export dairy products to China.

The countries have in recent times also looked at the possibility of establishing a direct air link between Ljubljana and China.

Trade between the countries exceeded EUR 760m in 2014, up around 15% over the year before. Chinese imports accounted for 80% of the total.


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