European businesses hobnob in Riga

  • 2001-05-17
  • Jorgen Johansson
RIGA - The Baltic Sea Partenariat 2001 project will enter its second phase on May 17 to 18 when companies from an estimated 1,000 businesses will visit Riga and look for future business partners. This will be the second Baltic Sea Partenariat. The first was hosted by Poland in 1996, but this year Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are co-hosting the event.

Various Baltic business sectors will be represented during the two business promotion days in Riga: wood and furniture, services and tourism, building and construction, food products, the chemical industry, plastics and packaging, machinery and equipment, electronics, telecommunications and IT, to mention but a few.

One of the main sponsors of the event is the Swedish government, which has set aside approximately $1 million - 34 percent of the total funding for the project.

Sweden is supporting the Partenariat since the country is currently sitting on the European Union presidency and the EU-PHARE Cross-Border-Cooperation program post.

"Sweden firmly believes this will improve the recognition of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in Europe," Per Orneus, first secretary at the Swedish Embassy in Riga, said. "This will also strengthen the picture of the Baltics as a dynamic business region."

The three host nations will provide the event with more than 300 companies, 168 from Latvia, 83 from Lithuania and 53 from Estonia. Already some 10,000 business meetings have been pre-scheduled and, according to Bengt Anckarman, the Partenariat's general project manager, about 30 percent of these sort of business meetings lead to something concrete in the end.

"This project idea started aproximately three years ago in Sweden when a lot of small-and medium-sized companies were asking about how to establish business contacts in the Baltics," Anckarman said.

Latvian Economy Minister Aigars Kalvitis expressed his own expectations before the business event was launched.

"It will be a good opportunity for these businesspeople to form constructive relationships," the minister said. "It's not a bad thing to have 30 to 40 meetings per day."

Businesses from more than 30 European countries, including the Baltics, are expected to show up.

"The Baltic Sea region has without a doubt tremendous potential, and I am not the only one who thinks so," Orneus said. "Just look at the number of companies that will be represented during the Partenariat."