July 8, 2019 / 1:59 PM / 5 months ago

Poland open to investment from China - foreign minister

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland is open to investment from China, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday, even as relations have faltered between the two countries over the role of Chinese technology firms in 5G and state infrastructure projects.

FILE PHOTO: Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz speaks to the media during the NATO Foreign Minister's Meeting at the State Department in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

A Chinese former Huawei executive was arrested in Poland in January on spying allegations. He has said he is innocent in the case.

And Polish President Andrzej Duda told Reuters last month that he was opposed to investment by Beijing in strategic infrastructure, including seaports and airports.

Nonetheless, the minister said he welcomed investment.

“We are also open to Chinese investments, especially greenfields, in the manufacturing and innovative sectors,” said Jacek Czaputowicz, during a visit to Warsaw by the Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi.

The meeting took place as part of the second session of the China-Poland Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee and is part of Wang’s week-long visit through Eastern Europe, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Wang will travel to Slovakia and Hungary later this week.

China is looking to reinvigorate its Belt and Road initiative, a push to grow trade with European countries over ancient Silk Road routes, in an effort to build trust in the region and maintain economic ties.

Wang called for Poland and China to strengthen their coordination in a number of issues, including taking greater advantage of the Silk Road transport network.

Rail services between Poland and China have grown in recent years, but congestion is an ongoing issue as cargo shipments have increased.

Wang also pushed for “more fruitful” talks as part of the 17+1 format, which is designed to build cooperation among Eastern European and Western Balkan countries to facilitate Chinese investment in the region.

Czaputowicz said Poland and other European countries should seek to even out trade imbalances with China.

“This asymmetry, which Poland sees applies to most European Union member states, together we want to look for an agreement to balance this out,” he said.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinsk; Writing by Joanna Plucinska and Alan Charlish; Editing by Alison Williams

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