China food makers get taste for Latvia

Latvia and China are able to take next steps to expand cooperation, said Latvian President Andris Bērziņš upon meeting with a visiting Chinese delegation Monday.

The delegation from China is here to see about possible cooperation in the foods sector, specifically, the importing of food products from Latvia. Agriculture Minister Janis Dūklavs also attended on the Latvian side.

The delegation, including Shanghai municipal officials and the management of China's Bright Food concern, cited their interest in working with Latvian food producers. The concern is a large food group, including agriculture, food processing, food distribution firms and several well-known brands in China.

Bērziņš , referring to his meeting with the Chinese prime minister in Milan last year, said that the visit is a proof that Latvia and China are ready to make the next steps to expand cooperation, in which production of agricultural and food products play a significant role because Latvia is known for its high quality and organic food. "I will do my best to support expansion of the existing contacts between both countries and creating new ones," the president said.

Representatives of Bright Food said that the concern's goal is to become China's leading and most comprehensive foods group with international competitiveness and brands, known as a producer of safe, healthy and good quality products. In the coming 3-5 years the concern plans to become one of the 5-8 Shanghai-based corporations with a global network and trans-border operations, hoping to earn a position among the world's top 500 companies.

Bērziņš said that it is important for Latvia to continue strengthening political contacts with China to create preconditions for cooperation in economy, education and culture. Increasing its exports to China, Latvia wants to achieve more products with higher added value.

Food safety auditors from China have already begun inspecting some Food Union plants including the combined business of two Latvian dairy companies -- Rigas Piena Kombinats (RPK) and Valmieras Piens, to determine compliance of Food Union products with export certificate requirements.

In January-October 2014, Latvia exported to China agricultural, food and fish products worth 5.2 million euros. Most of this amount – 79.6 percent or 4.2 million euros – were frozen berries. Latvian timber exports to China are also growing fast and reached 42.5 million euros in the first 10 months of last year. Latvia exports to China mostly round timber, sawn timber and furniture.

Economy
Economy