On 19 November 2020, the World Latvians Economic and Innovations Forum (PLEIF) was held fully online for the first time. At the opening of the event, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, delivered a keynote opening address to participants from 25 countries. The Parliamentary Secretary underlined that while the format of the event has changed the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled the forum’s discussions to reach out to an even broader audience worldwide.
The new reality has compelled and enabled us to appreciate, acquire and employ the opportunities offered by the internet on a much greater extent, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica said. We are not separated, we are even further united and interconnected, the Parliamentary Secretary noted, underlining that Latvia and its people can achieve more despite the hurdles we face. We know how to transform hurdles into springboards, she said.
Speaking about the current economic figures and indicators, the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that the export of Latvian goods had increased to the historic high in September 2020 exceeding last year’s export turnover by 7.7%, which includes a 13% increase in the value of exported goods. Latvia’s overall achievements definitely open new opportunities for our manufacturers and exporters at the individual level as well, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined.
Latvia’s GDP for the third quarter of this year has decreased by 3.1% from a year earlier. This means that we must be able to support, in a smart way, the sectors and people who have lost jobs and incomes due to the pandemic. We must find ways to give help. There is still much effort, and many hurdles and challenges lying ahead of us. The right path must be found. The growth in exports has and will be of a decisive importance, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica said. In her remarks, she also emphasised that innovations and excellence will be what generates Latvia’s economic growth following the pandemic.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that we need will, determination and the ability to work together. By working together, cooperating and supporting each other, we are able to accomplish a remarkable amount and we will be able to achieve new excellence and increase prosperity for our people. Cooperation is the strongest weapon we have in the world today, she underlined.
During the forum, a panel discussion on the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) and its importance for Latvia and the Baltic Region took place, with the participation of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andris Pelšs. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need for strengthening cooperation between the region’s countries and to develop infrastructure by implementing projects in the energy, transport and digital communications sectors.
The Three Sea Initiative (TSI) launched in 2016 aims at bridging the infrastructure connectivity gap between the EU’s southern and northern regions thereby strengthening cohesion at the EU level and also strengthening transatlantic links.
The Three Seas Initiative consists of the 12 EU countries that are geographically located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Partners to the TSI are the United States of America, Germany and the European Commission.
The WLEIF is organised by the World Federation of Free Latvians in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gateway & partners, the Red Jackets, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia.
This year’s forum brings together more than 500 participants, including representatives from businesses, the diaspora, educational institutions, civil society organisations, local authorities and government. More than 2000 people showed interest in watching the forum online. The forum is taking place for the seventh time and has been held in Latvia, Australia and the United States of America.
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