Transit firms on track for trade with Chinese boom town

Transport Ministry State Secretary Kaspars Ozoliņš led Latvia’s delegation of transit sector businesses to the booming western Chinese city of Chengdu this week, where the group hopes to forge contacts for long-term economic cooperation, the ministry announced in a release Monday.

During its visit the delegation met with city vice-mayor Li Chuncheng to present Latvia’s transport and logistics infrastructure development prospects and in return hear about Chengdu’s major development plans, which could benefit ties between the Baltic nation and the Sichuan district’s regional trade and communications hub.

In light of the potential benefits of mutual trade, both sides discussed the possibility of establishing an official municipal friendship between Riga and Chengdu for fostering cooperation in the transit and tourism sectors of their economies.

Chengdu is currently working on a plan for building its second international airport, which could potentially link directly to Riga International Airport (RIX), thus solidifying RIX as a key aviation hub serving routes between Europe and Asia. To discuss the prospects in more detail, the delegation met with representatives of Chengdu Airlines as well.

The Latvian delegation also visited some of Chengdu’s leading global manufacturing plants, among them factories owned by Volkswagen and Volvo in the automotive sector, and Dell, Lenovo, Motorola and Siemens in the IT sector.

On their part representatives of Chengdu noted their keen interest in ensuring efficient and cost-effective cargo transportation services to Europe. Later the delegation is scheduled to see the neighboring city of Chongqing.

Earlier this month at the third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Riga, Chengdu officials announced the addition of a new western European station beyond its rail freight line to the Polish city of Lodz, which was launched in 2013. A number of mainland cities -- including Chongqing in southwest China; Wuhan, Zhengzhou and Changsha in central China; and Shenyang in northeast China -- have rail freight services to Europe.

The Latvian delegation, whose visit will last until Thursday, May 28 includes companies DB Schenker, Latvian Railways cargo logistics firm LDZ Cargo Loģistika, StenaLine and Rīgas Universālais Terminālis.

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