Baltic ministers welcome U.S. investors

  • 2006-05-24
  • By Julia Balandina
RIGA - Baltic and U.S. businessmen convened on May 23 for the "U.S. Business Investment and Trade Mission," which was set up to explore opportunities in the region and strengthen international cooperation. During the conference, discussions were held on facilitating cooperation between the United States and the Baltics, especially in the areas of real estate, financial legislation, information technology and logistics. The United States has traditionally been slow to invest in the Baltics, yielding to Scandinavian countries and Germany.

As part of her welcoming toast, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga advised American businessmen to invest in Latvia due to the Baltic state's promising economy and advantageous geographical location. "Together, the Baltic states became rapidly developing teammates by prioritizing various business possibilities and providing an opportunity for U.S. companies to use this region," the president said. Head of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency Andris Ozols emphasized that Latvia and the United States had wide opportunities for economic cooperation.

"The United States has taken first place among Latvia's potential investments partners," said Ozols. "It has so far invested more than 300 million euros." According to Lithuanian Minister of Economy Kestutis Dauksys, who was also present at the conference, 26 percent of U.S. business enterprises regard Eastern Europe as the best location for investments. Dauksys reminded that Lithuanian producers were the most profitable among the Baltic states, and also exceeded Central Europe's average production profitability. Conference participants will also visit Tallinn and Vilnius, where they will continue dialog with potential Lithuanian and Estonian business partners.