Putting Latvia On The Global Map At Dubai Expo 2020

Officials from Latvia put their best foot forward as they present the country’s growth opportunities at the Dubai Expo 2020 that is off to a phenomenal start

After being pushed for a year due to the pandemic, Expo 2020 has got many of its cards right, attracting global attention. More than 190 nations have utilized their pavilions to spotlight their greatest tourist attractions and global ambitions.

Latvia is the closest border to Russia and Eurasia for almost all the European Union (EU) countries and has been called a gateway to Northern Europe. This is because it can provide a potential entry point not only to the EU but also to the larger Eurasian region.

It’s one of the most promising countries that offers several opportunities for entrepreneurs. One of the main reasons for this is the incentives and facilities provided by the Latvian government. To increase the competitiveness of new investors, the government has launched a ‘Green Channel’ for companies.

“This is the newest initiative we came up with to make the process of investing in Latvia simpler, time-saving and efficient. The channel minimizes paperwork and government requisites for large companies by almost 60 percent,” says Inga Ulmane, Director at Expo2020 Latvia Pavillion.

Latvia is a tax-efficient country of the EU that brings diverse incentives to its investors. “We want people to be more aware of this and also that we are part of EU (Schengen Zone) so our national currency is Euros. It’s an amazing trampoline to any EU market. It is not only cost-efficient but also has a highly educated and skilled workforce backed by the latest in technology, equipment and research through our institute to put together what investors need in a short time,” she adds.

Zeba Mahmud, Editor-in-Chief, The Arabian Marketer spoke to Ms Ulmane further on the opportunities of the country and what her expectations from Expo 2020 are. Excerpts:

1. What are your expectations at Dubai Expo 2020?
We are aware that not many people know about Latvia and what it offers to investors and entrepreneurs. At the Dubai Expo, we are taking visitors on a tour of the country, its culture, its people and why it’s a promising destination to invest in. We want to put Latvia on the global map. We want to share our journey from being a land of agriculture and forest to the shift made in recent years; of innovative and unique business and photonics, biomedicine, bio-economy, digitalization and more.

2. The Expo has happened after a lot of hardship and was pushed by a year due to the pandemic. Did this change any of your plans of participating?
We did decide to opt for a more efficient and practical pavilion rather than a self-built one but we have still brought together everything that we want visitors to know and understand about Latvia. Divided between two floors, we have let one show people Latvian life, culture and country while the second floor is for business. Here, visitors can get all information about studying in Latvia, moving to Latvia and investing in Latvia. We are simultaneously participating in other big events in Dubai such as the Big 5 and GITEX.

3. What are the major activities that you are planning to show to visitors when in the six months at the Expo?
We would be updating activities constantly. For instance, to celebrate Latvian National Day that falls on November 18, we held many events. On November 27, we will have an event to share the Latvian flavor of food, host concerts in the millennium amphitheater and in January 2022 we are going to focus on pharmacy and medicine. This would be in line with the ‘Health & Wellness’ theme of the Expo.

4. What is the narrative that you want people to carry back after they visit your pavilion?
We want people to know that Latvia is like a playground where they can really participate to their fullest. We want people to see our massive integrated ecosystem where academic, private and public enterprises come together. We want to highlight our innovations, products and even research. To give an example, we know that all drone manufacturers must fulfil a host of security laws to test their technology. In Latvia, however, we offer flexibility without compromising on security norms. Investors will also find the talent they need to support their work in our technical universities. Similarly, we have attractive offers for players in the new genes sequencing industry. And all this is being backed up by the green channel. We are one of the few nations, where because of the size of the country, we are available on direct calls to investors. This would not be possible in countries with large systems that tend to be conservative. Latvia is the best place to test and launch your new ideas.

5. What are some of the parameters that you have that allows you to judge the success of Expo 2020 for your investments here?
We are measuring this in three key indicators. First, we want to increase the export number of our companies to the region. Second, attracting additional investment from the region and finally, as we are the friendliest country when it comes to startups, we want to reach a specific number of startups coming up from Expo.