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    BiH-China economic relations strengthened thanks to 16+1 mechanism: minister

    Updated: 03 24 , 2017 15:32
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    BiH-China economic relations strengthened thanks to 16+1 mechanism: minister

    Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Mirko Sarovic talks during an interview with Xinhua in Sarajevo, capital of BiH, on March 20, 2017. The economic relations between BiH and China have strengthened within the frameworks of the 16+1 mechanism, BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic said here Monday. (Xinhua/Haris Memija)

    SARAJEVO, March 21 -- The economic relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and China have strengthened within the frameworks of the 16+1 mechanism, BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic said here Monday.

    During an interview with Xinhua, Sarovic noted that bilateral trade volume between the two countries has increased year-on-year ever since the first summit of China and the 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Warsaw in 2012.

    According to the Riga Guidelines for Cooperation between China and CEE Countries published last year, China-CEEC Agricultural Products and Wine Fair will be held during the Mostar International Trade Fair in BiH next month.

    "BiH has high quality wines, but in small production. However, when all CEEC (are combined) together, we can give a quality offer to the Chinese side," said Sarovic.

    The 16+1 mechanism refers to a cooperative platform between China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries -- Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

    As for the Belt and Road Initiative, Sarovic said BiH is willing to play a role in it and he is looking forward to attending the "Belt and Road" summit to be held in Beijing this May.

    "There are two important fields -- energy and infrastructure, where we would like to use the opportunities given by China," he said.

    The China-built Stanari power plant in BiH, which was officially launched last year, is one of the early achievements of the initiative.

    "Stanari is a very successful project and is a very successful story," said Sarovic. Meanwhile, he disclosed that similar projects are likely to start by the end of this year.

    The BiH minister also noted the two countries should enhance tourism cooperation.

    Sarovic said BiH should make joint efforts with countries in the region to offer a "Valter's path" to Chinese tourists. Thanks to the movie "Valter Defends Sarajevo", Valter as the name of an anti-Fascist hero in World War II is famous in China.

    In order to attract more Chinese tourists, BiH should simplify visa application procedures for tourists, said the minister.

    Proposed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road Initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.

    The initiative has so far gained the support of over 100 countries and international organizations, and more than 40 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China.

    The initiative has become the most popular public goods and platform for international cooperation with the brightest prospects in the world amid rising protectionism and unilateralism, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the annual political sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held in March 2017.

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