Riga balm continues to ‘warm hearts’ today

Belarusian-Latvian dialogue sincere at business forum and matchmaking session

Sharing a border does not always guarantee unconditional mutual love, as Latvia knows. For many years, Latvia has acted (in all spheres) with a careful eye to the West. Our relationship is like that of neighbours sharing a stairwell: without direct friendship but there in case of need. Regarding our political relations, these could be better. The most developed ties centre on business, since trade partners have a vested interest in strengthening their economic benefit.


Andrey Shorets and Nils Ušakovs during business forum

Business circles in Belarus and Latvia enjoy honest dialogue, as was evident at the recent Latvian-Belarusian business forum and matchmaking session. The language of money is universal; those who speak it understand each other well. In fact, 772 legal entities using Latvian capital currently operate in Belarus, while 2,020 enterprises with Belarusian ‘roots’ operate in Latvia.

Latvia is among the top ten trading partners of Belarus, purchasing our petrochemicals, metal goods, timber, mineral fertilisers, foodstuffs, tractors, clothes and footwear. Meanwhile, we import chemicals, optical devices, medicines and textiles from Latvia.

A large delegation arrived in Minsk from Latvia for the business-forum, including not only Latvian Saiema (Parliament) deputies but members of self-government bodies from major cities, and the heads of about 35 Latvian companies. Guests were met with all ceremony, and signed a co-operation programme between Riga City Council and Minsk City Executive Committee. Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs has called the document not simply ‘detailed’ but providing a ‘step-by-step strategy of mutual work on all aspects of life in our two capitals’. It covers everything from maintenance of inner-courtyards, and housing and communal services, to culture, sports and trade.

Business circles in Belarus and Latvia enjoy honest dialogue, as was evident at the recent Latvian-Belarusian business forum and matchmaking session. The language of money is universal; those who speak it understand each other well. In fact, 772 legal entities using Latvian capital currently operate in Belarus, while 2,020 enterprises with Belarusian ‘roots’ operate in Latvia.

Minsk Mayor Andrey Shorets agrees, saying, “Practice shows that we can learn from each other, and that many directions exist upon which co-operation may be strengthened.”

The Latvian delegation brought with it details of the Riga suburb project, previously known in Moscow as a good example of co-operation between national manufacturers. Companies create thematic displays, to build a clear image and promote public knowledge of their goods, while gaining direct sales. In Moscow, there were 25 such sites, although the introduction of food sanctions against Russia has caused a number of European countries to end deliveries of dairy and meat, fish and other goods.

Now, Latvian enterprises hope to direct the project towards Minsk’s shopping centres, opening ‘pop-up’ stalls there, and offering the same ‘Minsk suburb’ in Riga and other major Latvian cities. The Riga City Council Chairman of the City Development Committee, Maxim Tolstoy notes, “Even without this move, branded Belarusian goods are well-known in Latvia and, importantly, popular.”

The business forum has proven that Latvian business circles are keen to liaise with manufacturers and potential consumers and investors. They are seeking partners and distributors, and wish to conduct market research, with the aim of achieving mutually advantageous co-operation.

By Alexander Benkovsky

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