Ambassador tells Lithuania to up exports to USA

  • 2000-08-24
  • Geoffrey Vasiliauskas
VILNIUS - U.S. ambassador to Lithuania Keith C. Smith, who ends his diplomatic assignment in Vilnius in September, said he is leaving the country with many fond memories, and that he sees many unrealized possibilities for Lithuanian exports to the United States.

He told reporters there are many Lithuanian products which could find a very good market in the United States, including timber, furniture, textiles and linen, handicraft glass objects, small manufactured items, food, dairy products and others, but Lithuanian producers perceive the U.S. market as distant and inaccessible, and aren't attempting to market their products there.

"If I had some capital and were a businessman, I think I'd get into the export business," Smith said.

He added that he is forbidden to do so because of professional obligations. He said he is taking many Lithuanian products home with him in his baggage.

The ambassador said he is leaving Lithuania with fond memories. He has worked in Vilnius for three years.

"I think there are more people in the United States who know about Lithuania today. We've had more American senators and congressmen in the last three years in Lithuania than in any other Central European country," the ambassador said.

He said one of the hardest moments of his tenure came during Lithuania's negotiations with U.S. company Williams International, saying there were many "misunderstandings."

Smith said he will work half-time when he goes back to America, although he misses his work at the U.S. State Department.

He said he wants to spend more time with his family. The newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to Lithuania, John F. Tefft, will relieve Smith at the end of August.