China is willing to speed up the discussion over the signing of a MOU of the Belt and Road Initiative with Slovenia in order to promote bilateral economic cooperation, visiting Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said here on Friday.
"China is ready to enhance a top-down design to promote the integration of the development strategies with Slovenia and conduct substantial cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative," Zhang said in his meeting with Slovenian President Borut Pahor.
The initiative, launched by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trading routes, leading to mutually beneficial economic outcomes for every nation it reaches.
A Belt and Road forum for international cooperation will be held in Beijing on May 14 and 15. So far, more than 20 heads of state and government including Russian President Vladimir Putin, over 50 leaders of international organizations, 100 ministerial-level officials, as well as 1,200 delegates from various countries and regions will participate in the forum.
Zhang, who is on a three-day visit to Slovenia from Friday, told Pahor China welcomes an important member of the Slovenian government to attend the forum.
Stressing that the bilateral trade and investment scale ranks among the top in the Balkan region, Zhang said both countries need to give full play to each other's advantages to consolidate cooperation through major regional cooperation platforms, such as the 16+1 mechanism.
The 16+1 mechanism is a platform created in April 2012 by China and 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.
Zhang encouraged the two countries to explore cooperation on major projects of transportation infrastructure, continue cooperation in areas of aviation, electromechanical production, new energy vehicles, and increase attention and investment into the information technology and innovation.
Statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce showed that bilateral trade reached 2.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, up 30 percent year on year. Currently, China is the biggest trade partner of Slovenia in Asia. China and Slovenia are good partners of mutual trust, Zhang said.
He spoke highly of the development of bilateral ties since the two nations forged diplomatic relations 25 years ago, adding the relationship sets a good example of cooperation between countries of different political systems, development paths and culture.
Pahor said Slovenia has always adhered to the policy of developing ties with China and to the one-China policy.
He said Slovenia speaks highly of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January.
Slovenia advances free trade and firmly supports the European Union in deepening ties with China, Pahor said.
The president added that Slovenia is satisfied with the high-level of mutual trust with China and full of confidence in the future of bilateral ties.
During his talks with Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar also on Friday, Zhang said China would like to speed up the signing of the governmental MOU with Slovenia on the Belt and Road Initiative so to boost connectivity and win-win cooperation.
China will continue to encourage more enterprises with strong capability and good reputation to invest in Slovenia to conduct cooperation in areas of automobile, aviation, pharmacy, metal processing and food processing, and promote more major projects on airports and ports construction, the vice premier said.
Meanwhile, China welcomes Slovenia to expand agricultural produce export to China, and increase bilateral exchanges on culture, education, film-making, tourism and civil aviation, said Zhang.
China supports Slovenia in hosting a forestry mechanism under the 16+1 framework, he said.
Hailing the sound development of bilateral economic ties, Cerar said Slovenia is willing to enhance cooperation in areas of economy and trade, forestry, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, winter sports and digital construction.
Slovenia will continue to actively participate in the 16+1 framework and firmly supports the Belt and Road Initiative so as to boost the robust development of bilateral ties, said Cerar.
Slovenia is the third leg of Zhang's nine-day Eurasian visit, which already took him to Russia and Estonia. He will also visit Albania and attend a bilateral meeting at Kazakhstan.