“Until now, Latvia and Portugal appeared to be two distant European countries, but during the official visit of President Egils Levits, who was accompanied by a delegation of entrepreneurs, they managed to already make valuable contacts after the first talks. Portugal is a country where a Latvian entrepreneur can find an outlet for niche products. There are numerous opportunities to export from Portugal to the USA, Brazil and Africa, where the Portuguese have a strong economic presence. Latvia, on the other hand, can share its knowledge with Portuguese entrepreneurs about how to provide effective digital services and enter Northern European markets,” emphasises Kaspars Rožkalns, Director General of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).
From 11 to 14 April, the official visit of the President of Latvia Egils Levits to Portugal took place, accompanied by a delegation of 34 entrepreneurs organised by LIAA. During the visit, the entrepreneurs got acquainted with the Portuguese approach to innovations, met with current and potential business partners and participated in the Portugal-Latvia Business Forum.
During the Forum, the President emphasised Latvia’s solutions for smarter cities, more efficient and environmentally friendly mobility, cyber security and other IT areas that can promote Portugal-Latvia cooperation.
“We have a lot more in common than we think. Innovations and new technologies will be the most important indicators for the economic development of both Latvia and Portugal. We share common economic policy goals such as climate neutrality and the European Green Deal. Wind energy is used in Portugal both at sea and on land, whereas hydroelectric power plants are a green source of electricity generation in Latvia. Despite our distance from one another, we share the same geographic goals,” said the President of Latvia Egils Levits.
The business environment and investment climate of both countries were presented at the Business Forum. Portugal serves as a gateway to the US market as well as all Portuguese-speaking countries. Latvia, on the other hand, has more experience with digitalisation, having implemented and optimised various processes in the state, public and private sectors.
“The first significant step in the development of bilateral cooperation has been taken: we are aware of each other’s opportunities and see future potential. Currently, Portugal primarily exports machinery, automobiles and anything related to transportation to Latvia. We must encourage mutual cooperation in developing exports, such as new technologies and medicine. In order to find opportunities for joint cooperation, Portuguese entrepreneurs need to study the Latvian market – the first steps were taken at a business networking event with Latvian entrepreneurs. Thanks to the direct flight, there is an opportunity to speed up this cooperation,” noted Rita Araújo, the member of the board of the Portuguese Trade and Investment Agency.
Within the framework of the Business Forum, Alehandro Blūmentāls, executive director of the Latvian company “H2YO”, spoke publicly for the first time about the 3-year collaboration with the Portuguese company “Fonte Viva”. Alehandro admits that the Portuguese have a strong team culture and that their product can be tested in large corporations. Additionally, the Portuguese experience allows them to improve their product in terms of quality requirements. On the other hand, the commercial director of “Fonte Viva”, Sérgio Lopes, admits that he highly values the ability of Latvian companies to think two steps ahead and be innovative.
During the Business Forum, a cooperation agreement in biomedicine was signed between the Champalimaud Foundation and Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, Rīga Stradiņš University and Riga Technical University. “This is a good first step towards promoting mutual cooperation in the advancement of medicine and medical technology research. The signing of the memorandum with the Champalimaud Foundation will promote the development of Latvian infrastructure and the involvement of young people in research, adopting Portugal’s best practises,” said Ilze Kreicberga, chairwoman of the board of the Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital.
At the Forum, Latvia was represented by 34 entrepreneurs from the IT, logistics, textile, entertainment, furniture and manufacturing industries. On the other hand, 87 Portuguese entrepreneurs, primarily from the IT, biotechnology, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, expressed an interest in collaborating with Latvian entrepreneurs.