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During the Latvia-France Business Forum on 22 May, over 180 policymakers, officials, and representatives of international companies from Latvia, France, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, and Spain were present. It was determined that Latvia and France offer great potential for business growth and development. The Forum focused on tendencies in the transport, defense, and green technology industries and economic cooperation to date and assessed the business environment in both countries.

Opening the Forum, Latvia's Foreign Minister, Baiba Braze, emphasized the close strategic partnership between Latvia and France, which had successfully developed both bilaterally and within the European Union and NATO framework. "The holding of the Business Forum in Riga confirms the interest of both sides in strengthening and improving economic cooperation, including in high-value sectors with untapped potential. Strengthening cooperation in these strategically important areas is a long-term investment in the security of our countries, the European Union, and more broadly," said B. Braze.

Franck Riester, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, echoed B. Braze's statement and thanked the organizers of the forum for this valuable opportunity to strengthen relations between the two countries, share knowledge, develop new, promising cooperation, as well as jointly seek solutions to various challenges faced by both Latvia and France, addressing such critical issues as renewable energy, infrastructure development, defense industry, digitization, information and communication technologies, innovations, artificial intelligence, etc.

France is also an important economic cooperation partner for Latvia. "Latvia's foreign trade with France has grown in recent years, with exports of goods increasing by an estimated 9% last year compared to 2022. Latvia also has great potential to develop cooperation in science-intensive areas, including the bio-economy, biomedicine, space technologies, and information and communication technologies. We have initiated successful negotiations with French R&D centers and ecosystem leaders," said Eliza Drazniece, Head of the Latvia Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) representative office in France.

The Business Forum featured three themed panels: transport and the Rail Baltica project, the defense sector, and renewable energy.

Jurgis Miezainis, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Economics, presented Latvia's economic situation and objectives. The Forum was also attended by the Minister of Transport Kaspars Briskens, the Economic Counsellor of the French Embassy and Head of the Economic Department—Baltic States Jean Caro, the President of the French Foreign Trade Advisors for the Baltic States Franck De Bruyn, the Head of the Latvia Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) representative office in France Eliza Drazniece, the Managing Director at the Investment and Tourism Agency of Riga Fredis Bikovs, and others.

Opening the panel discussion on the Rail Baltica project, Minister of Transport Kaspars Briskens noted that Latvia closely cooperates with France in this project, including Latvia and the other Baltic States in a single European rail network. A panel discussion with Latvia, Estonia, and France industry experts discussed the Rail Baltica project, its benefits, objectives, challenges, and way forward.

The panel also discussed defense sector initiatives in Latvia and the Baltic region, which are becoming increasingly important in the global geopolitical context.

Renewable energy projects are developing rapidly in Latvia and the region as a whole, which can significantly contribute to long-term cooperation between the two countries. The forum also discussed Latvia's strategy for the renewable energy sector and development prospects for the hydrogen sector, as well as having the opportunity to hear various success stories for implementing renewable energy in practice.

Over 170 entrepreneurs from Latvia, France, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, and Spain participated in the Forum. France was represented by international companies from the transport, defense, and renewable energy sectors, including Airbus, Alstom, Axon Cable, Bererix, Bodet Time, Bouygues, Business France, Decathlon and Didaxis, Egis, Eiffage, Fives, Fokker Next Gen, France Hydrogène, Geodis, Ingerop, Knds France, Mbda, Schneider Electric, Société Des Grands Projets, SNCF Hubs & Connexion, Systra, Thales, NGE Group, etc. c. Latvia was represented by more than 70 companies, including Latvenergo, Mapon, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, Vizulo SIA, UPB nams, Superego, Shipprojects, Fortes, Hydrokapillar Tech, Alsen Technologies, Brasa Defence Systems, Kronus, Vairog EU and many others.

According to preliminary data, in 2023, Latvia exported goods worth around EUR 690 million to France, mainly in the machinery, electrical goods, and woodworking sectors. France ranks 14th among Latvia's foreign trade partners regarding total trade turnover in goods and services.

The Forum was organised by LIAA in cooperation with the Embassy of France in Latvia, the French Foreign Trade Advisors (CCEs), and the Investment and Toursim Agency of Riga.