One of the recommendations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for Latvia is to place a larger emphasis on export and investments in distant markets. With the beginning of the war in Ukraine, it has become even more relevant, therefore the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) continues to work on the broadening of external economic representations. On April 3, Latvia's new economic representation office will be opened in Boston (USA), and on April 5, in Toronto (Canada).
The interests of our exporting businesses also determine the geographical location of LIAA representative offices, while the objectives of the Latvian economy determine the priority lines of action of the representative offices. As we are expanding the network of support points in America and opening a new representative office in Canada, we are also involving the professionals from local Latvian diaspora communities. With their knowledge and contacts, they will support our entrepreneurs in improving competitiveness, attracting strategic partners in innovation, and promoting the export of high value-added products. At the same time, we expect the representative offices to contribute to the entry of new technology companies in Latvia," Jānis Vitenbergs, Minister of Economy.
Boston and Toronto were chosen as places to expand the network of LIAA representation offices to establish closer connections in the smart technology industries, thus providing support to the Latvian companies wanting to export to or attract investment from North America.
Latvian entrepreneurs name North America as one of the priority markets outside the EU Member States. This is a direction in which we are willing to develop cooperation. Several companies from Latvia, for example, "Printful" and "SAF Tehnika", have carried out a wide range of activities in the North American market, the Riga Technical University of Latvia has concluded a cooperation contract with the prestigious Massachusets Institute of Technology. In addition, one of the largest Latvian diaspore communities is situated in Toronto. These factors are a good basis for strengthening economic relations," Kaspars Rožkalns, Director of LIAA explains.
Latvia's economic representation in Boston will be managed by Reinis Nikolajs Sīpols, who represents the Latvian diaspora in the US and has gained considerable knowledge managing several companies in the mining and other industries.
Boston is an important US business centre where the industries of biotechnology, biomedicine and other smart technologies are rapidly developing. From the US companies that have cooperated with Latvia, we usually receive very good feedback, therefore, we have to use every opportunity to tell more about ourselves. The war in Ukraine has increased the visibility of the Baltic states in the US a lot. The Baltics and Eastern Europe in general will be a focal point for the US for the following years economically as well. This means we can become part of larger delivery chains, which currently have collapsed due to the geopolitical situation," R. Sīpols suggests.
The province of Ontario in Canada and its capital Toronto is one of the most important technology development centres in North America. 20 percent of the entire Canadian GDP is produced in Toronto, and it is an important educational centre with a specialisation in the bio-economy. Latvia's economic representation office in Toronto will be managed by Ilze Lācgalve, who has been working in the Canadian IT industry for the last 15 years, closely cooperating with companies like Lenovo, Google, Microsoft, Veeam, Veritas and others.
The free trade agreement concluded between the European Union and Canada opens up new possibilities for Latvian entrepreneurs to open the Canadian market. However, a favourable environment for investments and the highly qualified workforce available could be a good pre-condition for the interest to increase investments in Latvia. I can see a wide range of possibilities in directions like energetics, biomedicine and high-tech. Opening international business service centres in Riga and other Latvian cities have a good potential," Ilze Lācgalve emphasises.
With opening the new representations in the US, Boston and Canada, Toronto, LIAA currently has 19 external economic representation offices in 18 countries, providing consultations on export and investment attraction issues as well as participating in close collaboration with Latvian embassies in other activities to strengthen our country's economic interests abroad.
External trade data of Latvia and the US
In 2021, Latvia's total trade turnover of goods and services with the US was
887 million euro, placing the US in 14th place among Latvia's external trade partners. The total export of goods and services to the US was 596.6 billion euro, comprising 2.8% of Latvia's total exports, however the import of goods and services – 290.3 million euro, which comprises 1.3% of Latvia's imports. In comparison to 2020, exports have increased by 45%, and imports 31%. In 2021, the US was Latvia's 10th most important export and 19th most important import partner. The main Latvian export products to the US are wood products, cars, mechanisms, electric devices and food. The largest export products from the US are cars, mechanisms, electric devices and vehicles.
External trade data of Latvia and Canada
In 2021, Latvia's total goods and services trade turnover with Canada was 649.6 million euro, placing Canada in the 18th place among Latvia's external trade partners. The total export of goods and services to Canada was 44.9 billion euro, comprising 0.2% of Latvia's total exports, however the import of goods and services – 604.7 million euro, comprised 2.7% of Latvia's imports. In comparison to 2020, exports have increased by 13%, and imports by 125%. In 2021, Canada was Latvia's 44th most important export and 11th most important import partner. The main Latvian export goods to Canada are cars, mechanisms, electric devices, chemical industry products, food and optical devices. The largest import product from Canada is vehicles, mostly aerial vehicles and their parts.
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