On 22 November 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the Market Access Day organized by the Foreign Ministry in association with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) for the second time as an in-person event. The meeting is the initiative of the European Commission reaching out to businesses in Member States and introducing them to market access tools – the Access2Markets portal and the Single Entry Point – as well as joint analysing exporters’ experience and providing information on trade barriers in third countries, mainly in the sectors of information and communications technology, food industry and pharmaceuticals. The meeting focused on export markets in Latin America and in Africa.
The opening address to the members of the business community and representatives from public institutions was delivered by Alise Balode, the Head of the Economic Relations, Trade and Development Cooperation Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who noted that the current geopolitical situation drove many businesses to restructure their supply chains with regard to both primary commodities and exports. She underlined that one of the most potent instruments was the network of the European Union’s free trade agreements, which facilitated the access of businesses to third country markets. We are happy that our companies have positive experience with operating in the distant markets, and we hope for further development, Alise Balode said. She added that mutual cooperation between companies, public authorities and EU institutions was vital in addressing any critical issues; therefore, informational support from the European Commission to Latvia’s businesses was very much appreciated.
The Deputy Director-General for Trade, Denis Redonnet, underlined in his speech that under the current geopolitical situation and supply chain disruptions, the European Union needs instruments to protect itself and preserve its competitiveness. There is need for stabilisation and diversification of the market through expanding the network of cooperation partners. Free trade agreements make it easier for companies to enter third country markets, and more than 40 agreements with 50 countries are currently in force, the Deputy Director-General pointed out. Protectionism in third countries is on the rise, and trade barriers exist in various sectors, which affects EU companies directly or indirectly. The involvement of the private sector offers invaluable support for the European Commission in its negotiations with third countries on the elimination of barriers and on export promotion, and Latvia can even more effectively improve cooperation to that end, Dennis Redonnet noted.
The Head of the Foreign Trade Promotion Department at LIAA, Kaspars Abiks, informed the audience about the export statistics for Latin American and African countries. Although LIAA does not have any representation offices in those regions, many Latvian companies are exporting to, and operating in those markets. He emphasised that export growth should be based on innovative products and those with high value added.
At the event, Latvian businesses shared their experience of working in the Latin American and African markets.
Aerones Ltd., a company with good experience in the field of wind turbine blade inspection and maintenance robotics, is active in Mexico, Uruguay, Peru, and Argentina. The company representatives underlined that entering of new markets calls for a prior in-depth study and cooperation with the largest sectoral players in the region. To enter the Latin American market, it is vital to understand the culture of the country and have command of Spanish or Portuguese. In order to attract customers and obtain contacts, companies should take part in the largest fairs and exhibitions in the sector.
X-Infotech has a positive track record of working in the African countries. In total, the company has been successfully operating in 60 countries, 15 of those being in Africa. X-Infotech has its representation office in Kenya, which promotes projects in digitalisation services. The company’s representatives highlighted the knowledge and experience of Latvian experts, while advising to cooperate with local companies in the region as key to more successful projects.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers its thanks to experts from DG Trade, LIAA, and to Latvian companies for their cooperation in holding the event.