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China Ready to Invest in Infrastructure, Ambassador Says (interview)

Ljubljana, 07 September (STA) - China is willing to take part in all infrastructural projects in Slovenia, including in railways, motorways and the Koper port, Chinese Ambassador to Slovenia Zhang Xianyi told the STA in an interview. He stressed the success of the projects would depend primarily on the business environment.

"We hope to achieve a win-win goal through projects of cooperation, which will improve local infrastructure and regional interconnection, and set up good conditions for further participation of Chinese enterprises," Zhang said.

He stressed several Chinese enterprises had come to Slovenia to seek investment chances over the years, including the China Development Bank (CDB), whose vice governor visited Slovenia in May this year.

Slovenia has a good geographical position, and the countries' bilateral economic and trade cooperation are highly complementary, the ambassador noted, adding that both Slovenia and China must explore new potentials to achieve a new breakthrough in economic cooperation and trade.

Over the past 20 years, economic cooperation and trade have been developing smoothly, the ambassador believes. The two sides have established a joint economic and trade committee mechanism and organize regular meetings.

The trade volume increased from USD 11m at the beginning of diplomatic relations to USD 1.88bn in 2011, which is a nearly 160 times increase. This makes Slovenia China's biggest trade partner in former Yugoslavia, Zhang stressed.

"We've seen steady and fruitful progress of bilateral economic cooperation and trade with trade volume hitting new highs year by year."

An increasing number of Chinese companies are eying the Slovenian market, while Slovenian companies have invested over USD 10m in China over the years. "I feel very happy to see that Slovenia's elite companies like Gorenje, Krka and Pipistrel are now investing efforts to develop in the Chinese market."

In terms of political relations, the ambassador stressed that the two sides had enjoyed very good political relations so far. "This allows me to dedicate more efforts to the promotion of the bilateral cooperation in the field of economy and trade," Zhang said.

The Chinese ambassador also touched on the wider framework of cooperation between China and countries of central and eastern Europe. While cooperation between the countries has been strengthening since the beginning of the European debt crisis, a great deal of potential remains unrealised, the ambassador said.

"16 Central and East European countries have the size of one-third of whole Europe with 123 million people, but their total investment in China only equals that of Austria. This signifies that the potentials for cooperation are huge and still waiting to be dug out," the ambassador said.

Zhang also underlined the importance of cooperation measures agreed at a CEE-China meeting held in Warsaw, Poland, in April this year, pointing to the establishment of a USD 10bn credit line and the setting up of an investment cooperation fund between China and central and eastern European countries.

"All of these measures will provide valuable conditions and chances for economic cooperation and trade between China and Slovenia," he added.

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