An international conference “Latvia – a Meeting Place Connecting Scandinavia and China”, jointly organised by the State Joint Stock Company Latvijas dzelzceļš (LDz) and DHL Global Forwarding, was held on 22 November in Riga to discuss opportunities for cooperation and seek solutions for the development of transit routes connecting China and Northern Europe.
Steve Huang, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, stated that the Chinese economy was currently facing significant challenges caused by the rapid economic growth of the recent years. “Dependence on fossil fuels, unequal regional development and a GDP growth based on investments in infrastructure all facilitate a desire to develop economic ties and markets for manufactured goods outside of China, and Latvia could provide a connection to Europe”, said Mr Huang. “Latvia is going to be a very, very important transport hub between China and Europe,” he stressed.
During the event opening, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, emphasised the positive impact of the geographic location of Latvia on the cooperation with partners from the Baltic Sea region, as well as other Eastern European and Asian countries, including China. He reminded the audience that, as the presiding country of the European Union, Latvia achieved the approval of the new EU strategy for Central Asia, according to which cooperation in the transport sector is essential. “This conversation is a great opportunity to transition from political and diplomatic methods to a very practical type of cooperation,” said Mr Rinkēvičs.
Latvia already enjoys close links with China and Scandinavia. Besides, as expressed by the Latvian Minister of Transport, Uldis Augulis, although China is a geographically distant cooperation partner, the previous cooperation in the field of transport has proved that distance is not an obstacle to the cooperation. The Minister also stated that the most significant achievement in our cooperation with the Scandinavian countries involved the regular sea transport services allowing shipments to be sent from the ports of Latvia to virtually any port of Scandinavia within 48 hours. At the same time, the current cooperation with China contains a realistic promise of further collaborative projects in the near future. “Our next task is to ensure an equal flow of cargo in both directions. It is not a secret that the amount of cargo coming from China is double that sent from Europe to China. Our challenge is to achieve an increase of cargo flows from Northern Europe to China, making this a more competitive route,” noted Mr Augulis.