VILNIUS - Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis on March 25 met with representatives from the business community to discuss the goals of Lithuania’s foreign trade policy, as well as representation of the country’s economic interests abroad, reports news agency ELTA. Heads of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, Investors’ Forum, Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, and other groups attended the meeting, during which the minister presented information on the process of shaping the EU’s trade policy and efforts of the Lithuanian diplomatic service to guarantee that the policy would meet the country’s interests.
Azubalis stressed that he would aim to strengthen the economic aspect of the Lithuanian diplomatic service, because in today’s situation the promotion of exports is one of the key means to support domestic economy growth, to stimulate substantive investment, creation of new jobs, technological transformation and to reduce the current account deficit. Participants of the meeting unanimously supported the minister’s initiative.
The minister drew attention to the risks of business expansion into foreign markets. “We have to acknowledge that there are different risks in various countries; the most profitable markets are generally also the most risky ones and that requires careful calculation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ready to help in tackling the difficulties, but it has to be understood that the state has limited possibilities to help,” said Azubalis.
He invited businessmen to cooperate more actively and to report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regularly about trade problems that arise in non-EU markets and to submit information about opening new markets that are of interest. “A clear understanding of business interests will help us to defend Lithuania’s interests during the EU trade talks. Currently, the World Trade Organization talks on global trade liberalization and improving rules for international trade have slowed down slightly, so the EU focused on negotiations regarding free trade agreements,” commented Azubalis.
The minister called the participants’ attention to the concluded talks on the EU’s free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Peru, which would allow for a significant opening of these markets for Lithuania’s exports, and for protecting the exporters to EU countries from the importing country competition.
Negotiations with countries in Central America, with India, Canada, and Libya continue, and negotiations with Singapore and Vietnam will begin.
According to Azubalis, membership of Russia in the WTO and the adjustment of its national legal framework to the stipulations of WTO agreements must remain a necessary condition for the liberalization of further trade relations with the EU. The minister said that it was also in Russia’s interest to become a member of this organization.