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Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis: Lithuania should overcome Latvia in competition battle for Chinese investments

VILNIUS  – Lithuania should overcome Latvia in the competition battle for Chinese companies' investments in transport and logistics sector, Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said after meting with China's Parliamentary Speaker Zhang Dejiang in Vilnius on Friday.

"The Klaipeda seaport is certainly the fastest-growing port in the Baltic Sea region, it is an ice-free port, and when it comes to the ambitious project, which the government's Strategic Committee gave a green light to for seaport expansion and construction of an external seaport, if we complete the project, competition from our brothers (Latvia) will be almost out of the question," Skvernelis told Vilnius journalists after meeting the third-highest figure in the Chinese Communist Party.

In the prime minister's words, the meeting mainly addressed the cooperation possibilities in the transport and logistics sector, which were the top interest of the Chinese delegation.

Lithuania has been working for years to attract Chinese investments, however, the country's companies are cautious about entering the Lithuanian market. Asked about the reasons behind this, Skvernelis said the wariness was mutual.

"We should probably speak about mutual caution, as apart from the positive economic issues, we should speak about the political situation and the political system in China. It is a rather specific country and we should keep this in mind, when it comes to their investments," said the prime minister.

In March of 2016, China Merchants Group's CEO Li Jianhongu stated that Lithuania was becoming an increasingly close partner. In his words, the Hong Kong-based company had chosen Lithuania as the hub for further expansion to Central and Eastern Europe. The group intended to set up two subsidiaries in Vilnius and Klaipeda, as well as contribute to the construction of the deepwater harbor in Klaipeda.

Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) is also interested in contacts with the company amid its efforts to attract cargo from an industrial park being built in Belarus by the Chinese company.

China is the second-largest world economy, growing by more than 6 percent last year, with a similar pace of development projected for 2017, as well.

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