Plenković Concludes Visit to China, Travels to Finland

By 6 November 2018

ZAGREB, November 6, 2018 - Croatia has a favourable geographical position in the middle of Europe and as a member of the European Union it is part of the large European market with over 500 million people which represents a great opportunity for Chinese companies interested in cooperation, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Shanghai on Tuesday, at the Croatia-China business forum which brought together representatives of about 30 Croatian and more than 130 Chinese companies.

With his participation in the business forum, the Croatian prime minister wrapped up his five-day visit to the world's second largest economy. During his stay in China, he held talks with top Chinese officials – President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang – and held a number of working meetings with Chinese business people.

Opening the business forum, Plenković invited Chinese companies to invest in Croatia, notably in railway infrastructure and naval ports, saying that Croatia wanted to increase its exports to China. "We want to attract new investment and I believe that our meetings will help further development of cooperation between Croatia and China. This forum shows that Croatian companies are increasingly interested in the Chinese market. Let's hope your talks today will result in numerous deals," Plenković said.

He underscored the advantages of Croatia's favourable geographical position, adding that Croatia is part of the market with 500 million people. Plenković stressed Croatia was entirely integrated in transport plans on the European level and focused on further investment in the railway sector.

He recalled that the overall trade between the two countries last year amount to 900 million dollars of which only 125 million dollars was Croatia's exports to China. "Our goal is to have a balanced trade...We want to increase Croatia's exports to China, which is why we are here, to help Croatia's exporters," Plenković said.

He also underscored the importance of cooperation with China in the China +16 initiative. The 16+1 format is an initiative launched by China aimed at intensifying and expanding cooperation with 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia) in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education, and culture. In the framework of the initiative, China has defined three potential priority areas for economic cooperation: infrastructure, high technologies, and green technologies.

"It is a great honour for us to host the China+1 summit in spring 2019 in Dubrovnik," Plenković said. He also underlined the importance of the decision, adopted by the Hrvatske Ceste road operator, to select the China Road and Bridge Corporation to build the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia, which he described as "the most important infrastructural project in Croatia."

Plenković wrapped up his visit to China by expressed satisfaction with his stay in that country and the talks he held with the Chinese politicians and business people.

A delegation of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by HDZ chief Andrej Plenković, will take part in a congress of the European People's Party (EPP) in Helsinki on Wednesday and Thursday when EPP members are expected to elect their lead candidate for the next European elections, scheduled to take place on May 23-26, 2019.

Plenković will also hold a bilateral meeting with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila on Wednesday.

The EPP meeting in Helsinki will also be attended by government leaders from the EPP ranks, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as well as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

Some EPP members are going to support Manfred Weber, currently the leader of the parliamentary group of the PPE in the European Parliament, in the running for the next President of the European Commission.

Manfred Weber is running against Alexander Stubb inside the group as the other EPP member aspiring to become this entity's candidate to the European Commission top job.

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