One-stop shop opens with something for all

  • 2001-08-02
  • Ilze Arklina
RIGA - Maria Cino, the assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the U.S. Commercial Service, visited Riga on July 30 to open the service's Baltic office.

"We help small- and medium-sized American businesses to export their products abroad," Cino told journalists. "We try to direct our businesses to places where the most opportunities are for them.

"We are impressed by rapid growth in the Baltic states' economic development and firmly believe that there are many opportunities for U.S. companies to export. Your strategic location is also very important for the future plans of our businesses."

Cino, the first representative of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration to visit Latvia, is responsible for developing and managing programs to promote U.S. exports abroad.

She manages a worldwide network of over 1,800 trade experts at 105 Export Assistance Centers in the U.S. and 161 U.S. embassies and consulates in 86 countries.

The new office is located in the U.S. Embassy and is managed by senior commercial officer Karen Pilmanis, who arrived in Riga last May. This is the only office abroad being opened by the U.S. Commercial Service this year.

Cino expressed hope that the office will help to increase trade between the U.S. and the Baltic countries. "Buyers in the region need and want a high degree of confidence and trust in their U.S. suppliers," she said.

"And the U.S. suppliers, many of them small- and medium-sized businesses, want the same. Our mission is to make the process as easy, reliable and beneficial as possible. We are like a one-stop shop. We have something for everybody to make themselves successful."

The new office offers personal consultations, video-conferencing possibilities, search options for products the U.S. businesses might want to import, and online services for completing transactions, Cino said.

More on trade with the United States can be found at:

So far, the trade balance between the Baltics and the United States has been positive. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have been exporting more than importing, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

From January to May 2001, U.S. exports to Estonia amounted to $23.52 million, while imports from Estonia amounted to $120 million, $91.27 million of which were fossil fuels, lubricants and related materials.

The United States' exports to Latvia for the respective period came to $46.11 million, while imports amounted to $94.12 million. Fossil fuels, lubricants and related materials accounted for $59.46 million of imports while the largest U.S. export goods are food and live animals ($15.70 million) and machinery and transport equipment ($15.87 million).

U.S. exports to Lithuania were $37.95 million from January to May 2001, while imports were $75.65 million, $22.74 million of which were chemicals and related products.

However, transit going through the Baltic countries is also included in these figures, so the actual trade figures may be much smaller. So, according to the Latvian Central Statistics Bureau, Latvia's exports to the United States came to 9.53 million lats ($15.1 million) from January through May 2001, while imports from the U.S. amounted to 17.28 million lats.