British ambassadors urge investment

  • 2009-02-25
  • By Kate McIntosh

PARTY PEOPLE: The three British ambassors to the Baltics are working together to devise ways to improve business ties between the U.K. and the Baltic states.

RIGA - Mutual investment projects between the Baltic region and Britain could help pull the countries back from recession, the British ambassadors to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania said during a joint meeting in Riga.
British ambassador to Estonia Peter Carter told The Baltic Times Britain was now actively encouraging Baltic businesses to invest in the U.K., saying the strategy held benefits for all countries involved.
He said good business models, established markets and the weakened pound made Britain increasingly attractive to Baltic investors.

Several local companies have already traveled to the U.K. to explore potential market opportunities.
The ambassadors said a dedicated U.K. Trade and Investment (UKTI) team was continuing to work on building up the business relationship between Britain and the Baltics.
The office advises U.K. and Baltic companies on business opportunities, market information and provides contacts in each other's countries.

The teams also work on bringing sector or region specific trade missions to the Baltics.
The ambassadors were speaking at a recent meeting in Riga entitled "Explore the Baltics."
The initiative brought together local trade teams and Trade Advisers from the U.K.
Discussions focused on the economic and commercial situation, as well as opportunities and strategies. 
Despite the worsening economic situation crisis, currently affecting both the U.K. and the Baltics, the region remained an attractive market and opportunities are present for smart business, said the ambassadors.
"Of course we need to make U.K. firms aware of a more difficult climate that may constrain opportunities, for example, in the residential property development sector, But our overall message is that the opportunities are there," said Simon Butt, British ambassador to Lithuania.

While acknowledging the difficult economic climate posed challenges, Butt said industry in Latvia was far from dead, with promising opportunities existing in sectors such as ICT, education and training, biotechnology, environmental and energy technologies, services, and basic infrastructure using EU funding.
"The fundamental areas of strength have not changed significantly. These are the openness of the Baltic economies, the ease of doing business, the generally Anglophile outlook, the widespread use of English, the wide penetration of up-to-date IT and a strong education, research and skills base," said Butt.
Additionally, the Baltic countries benefit from substantial flows of EU structural and cohesion funds, and offer a base for doing business in both the EU and Russia/CIS markets, he said.

Many U.K. firms are now well-established in the region, but Carter said the Baltics remained a relatively untapped market.
"It's not as well known as it should be. Many people that come here from the U.K. are surprised at the ease of doing business," said Carter.
The ambassadors also spoke of the enormous difficulties presented by the global economic slowdown, saying there was no "magic bullet."
Butt also emphasized the importance of mutual trade and investment flow to help ease the effects of the financial slump.

"First the situation must be stabilized and then we can move into a recovery phase.  That's where preparation now 's including readiness to make contacts and invest 's can pay off later," said Butt.