Lithuania hosts 16+1 forum of China-CEE agriculture ministers
Vilnius is hosting on Friday a forum of agriculture ministers from China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries, marking the first-ever meeting within the 16+1 framework in Lithuania.
The forum is attended by Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, on his first visit to Lithuania, and a business delegation.
Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys has told BNS that 16+1 proves a unique opportunity for Lithuanian farmers, processors and food product manufacturers to introduce themselves to China, which may give a boost to exports.
The so-called 16+1 was established more than five years ago as China's initiative to boost cooperation with 16 CEE countries, including Lithuania and another 10 EU member states.
It is feared in Western Europe that the 16+1 co-operation format is aimed at creating a split amongmember countries on Chinese investment, a position informally maintained by some Lithuanian diplomats, too.
However, other Lithuanian officials defend the value of the format for the state, saying that it provides an additional instrument for Lithuania to communicate directly with China.
Surplys believes that 16+1 forum is a useful format for the state and does not undermine Lithuania's relations with the European Union.