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Minister Židan: "Intensive contacts with China have brought about substantial results; last year's export increased by as much as 80%"

Hangzhou, 18 May 2017 – On the second day of his visit to China, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Republic of Slovenia, Dejan Židan, attended the opening of the event "China International Tea Expo", where he also delivered an address as the speaker of honour. Minister Židan had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China, Han Changfu, during which the two ministers highlighted the significantly stronger cooperation between the two countries, which contributed to mutually reinforcing confidence and led to a significant rise in bilateral trade, as reflected in the latest trade figures. Today, Minister Židan also acquainted himself with the results of the work of the successful young Slovenian enterprise Elaphe and its Chinese partner Zheijang Asia-Pacific Mechanical & Electronic Co. Ltd., which are developing high-tech electric motors for the automotive industry.


Slovenian Minister Dejan Židan, at the invitation of Chinese Minister Han Changfu, attended the international exhibition entitled "China International Tea Expo 2017". This event not only has a strong cultural and economic component, but is also a promotional event reflecting China’s level of cooperation with individual countries. In his address, the Slovenian Minister, as the honorary guest of the event, congratulated the hosts on the successful organisation and execution of another great event, the First "One Belt One Road (OBOR)" Forum, which recently concluded in Beijing and at which Slovenia actively participated. He went on to emphasize in particular the excellent cooperation between the two countries. "In recent years, the cooperation between our two countries has been extremely intensive and also very successful in various fields, while the high-level visits exchanged so far have significantly contributed to the development of bilateral economic and other forms of cooperation." Minister Židan also highlighted the good cooperation on science and education and as an example he listed the cooperation of the Slovenian Karst Research Institute with the Chinese Karstology Institute, adding that student exchanges had already been agreed upon for the future.  In his address, the Minister also pointed out the cooperation within the 16+1 initiative, which involves 16 Central and Eastern European Countries and China, as an important framework of cooperation between Slovenia and China. This year, Slovenia will also host the 12th Agro-trade Forum between the People's Republic of China and Central and Eastern European Countries. "This will be one of the most important events in our country this year and we expect political and economic delegations from 16 countries." On this occasion, Minister Židan took the opportunity to thank Chinese Minister Changfu for confirming his presence at the Forum, as well as that China had accepted the invitation to present itself as the guest country at Slovenia's largest International Fair of Agriculture and Food (AGRA). The Minister also presented to the event participants Slovenia’s initiative for the proclamation of World Bee Day, which is also focused on concern for sustainable food production, environmental protection and the preservation of biodiversity. "At this point, I would like to express once again my thanks to the People's Republic of China for its strong support in this initiative, and the very first person who supported us in this measure was the Deputy Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China, Wang Yang." 


Today, Minister Židan had a separate meeting with Chinese Minister Han Changfu, at which he thanked the Minister for the invitation and the opportunity to have been able to meet him again in China, which further strengthened the friendship and trust between the two countries. During the discussion, the two ministers also touched upon the preparations for the Agro-trade Forum between the People's Republic of China and Central and Eastern European Countries 16+1 to be held in August this year in Slovenia. The Chinese Minister emphasized that he fully trusted Slovenia and that he was convinced that Slovenia would organise and conduct the event professionally.  According to Minister Židan, Slovenia believes that cooperation within the 16+1 framework has an important role in the promotion of economic cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries.  Slovenia actively participates within the Association for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) Countries, which is coordinated by Bulgaria, as well as in other events within this Association.  Minister Židan also expressed his thanks to his Chinese colleague for confirming his participation in this event as his participation would significantly contribute to the event’s importance and success. He also expressed gratitude for China having accepted the invitation to attend the AGRA Fair in August this year as partner country.  


In the afternoon, the Slovenian Minister also took a tour of the joint investment project of the Slovenian enterprise Elaphe and its Chinese partner Zheijang Asia-Pacific Mechanical & Electronic Co. Ltd.. This project is a great success for Elaphe, as the Slovenian enterprise made use of its knowledge and technology in the Chinese automotive market and from there also entered the international market. Elaphe is a young Slovenian enterprise that has developed from the enterprise incubator of the Jože Štefan Institute. They manufacture high-tech electric motors for the automotive industry. These electric motors are installed in vehicles directly on the axis immediately in front of the wheel and provide high efficiency. Elaphe motors can be mounted in front of any wheel. If cars have these electric motors, they have no mechanical gear assemblies and no traditional internal combustion engines installed. The autonomy of the car depends on the battery size and their test models have a driving range from 200 to 300 km.  In this branch, the enterprise ranks second in the world and as regards the quality of its products it equals other manufacturers of the sector. 


After his two-day visit to China, Minister Židan assessed that the recent visit had had three objectives. "The first objective was to sign, with the Chinese minister competent for food safety, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China on cooperation for the provision of safety during the import and export of food products in order to accelerate recognition procedures and export procedures to China. This objective has been met." In this respect, the Minister added that he had also been promised an accelerated procedure regarding approval for the export of honey, honey products and other food products. "The second objective we accomplished was the agreement with the minister competent for forestry to expand cooperation also in training, education and research, as well as to jointly prepare for the October meeting of the 16+1 expert commission."  As the third objective attained Minister Židan highlighted cooperation with the Chinese Minister of Agriculture in reviewing the progress of preparations for the 16+1 meeting to be held in August this year in Slovenia. "This visit will be important because of the participation of the ministerial and the economic delegations as well as for its purpose to accelerate cooperation in the field of agriculture, food enterprises and education among all 17 countries.  According to the Minister, the frequent political contacts have already produced economic results; in 2016, Slovenia's export to China increased by more than 80%, which means EUR 270 million in numbers.  At the conclusion of the visit the Minister pointed to the figures for the first two months of this year, according to which exports continue to rise; moreover, it is encouraging to observe that the number of contacts and meetings at the Slovenian Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate in Shanghai between those whose aim it is to accelerate economic cooperation has significantly increased. "By May this year we had already recorded more meetings than during the whole of last year." According to Minister Židan, China is an important market for Slovenia and the trade in goods currently amounting to EUR 1 billion has good prospects for further increases in the future. 


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