Press Advisories

7. 7. 2018 20:07

Prime Minister Babiš attended the 16+1 Summit, talked with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang

Joint Photo of Prime Ministers at the Summit of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and China in Sofia on 7 July 2018.
Joint Photo of Prime Ministers at the Summit of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and China in Sofia on 7 July 2018.
On Saturday 7 July 2018, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš attended the Summit of Central and Eastern Europe and South-Eastern Europe and the People’s Republic of China (16+1) in Sofia. He also met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, and discussed mainly Czech-Chinese relations, economic cooperation and investment.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš attended the opening of the 16+1 economic forum and also the opening of an exhibition mapping the success of cooperation between the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and China. It put us first among all countries in terms of air connection with China. This was followed by the plenary session of the 16+1 delegations.

“I attended the meeting for the first time. I think this is a very important form of meeting between Central and Eastern European Prime Ministers and China. For example, Austria was represented here by an observer, which also confirms its importance. Greece is also seeking to become a member”, Andrej Babiš commented on the summit.

In his speech, Prime Minister Babiš confirmed that the new government wants to continue to play an active role in the 16+1 format. The Czech Republic, he said, should also make every effort at the political level to reduce the negative balance of foreign trade. China is the second largest importer to the Czech Republic, but ranks 17th in terms of Czech exports.

“I think China is the territory where politicians can help our companies open the door and help our business there. That's why when I get home, I would like to organize a meeting with our companies, the Confederation of Industry and the Chamber of Commerce. This should help us shape concrete ideas on what we really want to sell in China”, added Prime Minister Babiš.

In conclusion, the Prime Ministers adopted “Sofia Guidelines”, which specify the main areas of cooperation between the 16 countries and China in 2018 and 2019. One important point is to declare openness of this format to observers, i.e. other countries or groups, including the European Union.

For 2019, the Czech Republic is preparing several activities in the 16+1 format. These include the first China-CEEC Civil Aviation Forum and the 16+1 expert talks on medicines regulation. Since 2014, the Czech Republic has hosted the annual Chinese Investment Forum.

The Czech Republic wants to develop relations with China

After the summit, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. During their historically first meeting, he assured Mr Keqiang that the Czech Republic would like to continue to develop relations with China. The discussion mainly focused on economic cooperation, the possible expansion of Czech business representation in other Chinese cities and the development of the Strategic Partnership with China. They also talked about the upcoming Shanghai International Import Expo. According to preliminary plans, the Czech delegation should be led by President Miloš Zeman.

There are currently four direct air links between the Czech Republic and China, and two are in talks. Exports from the Czech Republic to China reached CZK 56 billion in 2017, which represents a year-on-year increase of 20 percent and historically record exports from the Czech Republic to China. Also significant are projects under the Silk Road Initiative. The bilateral cooperation plan between the governments of both countries was concluded in 2016.

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