Plenković Meets With Prime Minister of China

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ZAGREB, November 2, 2018 – Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing on Friday, saying afterwards that China was interested in investing in the renewal of Croatia’s rail infrastructure and shipbuilding industry, which could be realised as part of the China + 16 initiative.

Plenković today began a five-day working visit to China. “We talked about possible Chinese investment in the rail infrastructure, in ports, which is especially important to Croatia. We have developed a great road infrastructure, invested a lot in airports. However, we now have to further upgrade railways,” he said, adding that the plan was to invest three billion euro in the rail infrastructure by 2030.

“The interest and expertise of Chinese companies could open new pages of cooperation, very concrete ones, as everyone is highly interested in the China + 16 framework,” Plenković said, adding that Croatia would host the 2019 meeting of the initiative which promotes stronger cooperation between the world’s second largest economy and the countries of east and central Europe.

He held working meetings with the executives of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the China Railway Group Limited, Norinco, and the CSIC Shipbuilding Corporation. “We requested a meeting with the Chinese shipbuilding corporation. They are interested in partnership, in cooperation,” Plenković said. He outlined the current state of Croatia’s shipbuilding to CSIC, one of the world’s largest shipbuilders. He recalled that CSIS had been cooperating with Croatia’s Institute for Ship Hydrodynamics for some time now, saying “they are very satisfied with the expertise of Croatian experts.”

Asked by reporters if it was possible to find a strategic partner for Croatia’s ailing Uljanik dock, Plenković said it was and that there was interest, including from Fincantieri, DIV and Ukrainian companies. “The information we have presented here in China has fallen on fertile ground.”

Plenković’s meeting with Li was their fifth over the past two years. He said today they talked about increasing bilateral trade and that both were satisfied with the ongoing construction of the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia.

The bridge is being built by CRBC, whose CEO Lu Shan said after the talks with Plenković that this was “a very important moment” for the company. “This is an opportunity to present to the Croatian prime minister the project we have launched, the job we have done so far and the job we have lined up for the next few months.”

Lu said it was important to CRBC to hire local labour and honour all environmental regulations. “It’s quite a sophisticated bridge because of the quite big span of the central arch and the strict European laws on environmental protection. We must be very careful about all the technical issues, and the environment especially, so that we don’t breach European standards or disappoint people.”

For more on the Pelješac bridge construction, read here.


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