Latvia less successful than Lithuania in attracting Belarusian businesses

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Currently 15 Belarusian companies have moved to Latvia, creating several hundred new jobs and attracting investments of nearly 10 million, the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) said May 26. Lithuania has managed to attract nearly three times as many companies.

Since the crisis in Belarus began last year, Latvia has tried to facilitate the resettlement of Belarusian companies. At this time, 15 companies have made the choice to move to Latvia, three have decided to expand here, while another seven companies are examining the possibility of moving to Latvia. Overall, they plan to create up to 1,000 new jobs. Once they are fully operational, these companies could contribute some €40 million annually to the national budget.

These 18 companies represent the technology industry. Some of their founders and employees have collaborated with world-known technology brands, such as NASA and Google.

Lithuania is well above Latvia. 43 Belarusian companies have moved to Lithuania, while another 37 are examining this possibility. Significant indicator: 12,000 Belarusians have received Lithuanian visas in the last year and only 250 Latvian visas.

“One is, of course, a technically geographical proximity – Vilnius is closer than Riga. We can't really do anything there. “But there are other factors that are visas and facilitating entry,” said LIAA Director Kaspars Rožkalns.

One of the main problems is that family members of foreign employees cannot obtain visas and enter Latvia, so it is not possible to move with families. The Agency presented the current situation and key findings to Saeima members on Wednesday. Members of the Saeima Commission for Sustainable Development decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister, calling for a view of the situation and thinking about how Latvia would be made more attractive and accessible to foreign companies.

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