The international EXPO 2020 Dubai fair is taking place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and will continue until 31 March this year. In addition to the Latvian Culture Week, Dubai is to host a meeting of the Joint Economic Committee between Latvia and the UAE, which will be joined by the Minister of Economics of Latvia Jānis Vitenbergs and a delegation of businesspeople. Latvian companies will also participate in food and design industry trade missions, as well as in Gulfood, one of the world’s most sought-after food industry fairs.
Several memoranda on cooperation to be signed during the Joint Economic Committee meeting
The official visit of the Minister of Economics of Latvia Jānis Vitenbergs will take place in Dubai between 26 February and 3 March, as part of which he will join the meeting of the Joint Economic Committee between Latvia and the UAE. The meeting is organised to highlight and discuss potential cooperation between Latvian and UAE businesses in fields such as innovation and technology, transport and logistics, agriculture, education and science.
“The EXPO 2020 international fair taking place in Dubai is still a locus of attention for business, and we use every opportunity to build new business contacts. From October to March, our businesses have access to meetings, exhibitions and significant business events for setting up a starting platform for potential global cooperation. During the Joint Economic Committee meeting, we will also continue improving our economic relations, focusing our cooperation on strengthening the economic ties between our countries and businesses, including small and medium enterprises, as well as start-ups, with the goal of encouraging investments, creating joint enterprises and other types of collaboration,” Jānis Vitenbergs, Minister of Economics of Latvia, revealed.
“This will be the second meeting of the Joint Economic Committee between Latvia and the UAE. The first one took place in 2019, and its principal goal was to identify the barriers that prevent the two parties from working together successfully. We see that it helped both businesses and government bodies to find their way to the UAE, and today, we are extremely thankful and honoured that, despite the hectic schedule and amount of work, the UAE Minister of Economy, V.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, and his delegation, will bring their undivided attention to this second meeting, so that we can join our forces and make it a success. The goal of this year’s meeting of the committee is to discuss specifics and encourage cooperation between the two countries in economic and other affairs, and to sign a few memoranda on cooperation. This year, Latvia’s delegation will include the Minister of Economics and representatives of various government bodies, as well as entrepreneurs, thus once again confirming that Latvia is a reliable and interested partner,” said Inga Ulmane, Director of the Latvian Pavilion at the fair.
She also pointed out that overall, the fair promised to be fairly active for Latvia in February. For example, the Latvian Culture Week will run from 19 to 28 February, intended to present Latvia’s art and culture to as broad an audience as possible, including a screening of the film The Pit (‘Bedre’) directed by Dace Pūce. Also, the Alserkal Avenue district will host an exhibition of art by Voldemārs Johansons, and other activities to promote Latvian culture.
“In Dubai, the Latvian Pavilion is located in the Opportunity District. This is a place where we talk about Latvia, demonstrate what our businesses have to offer, and build a space for successful business negotiations and partnerships. The activity so far makes us certain that we can be very satisfied with our participation in the fair, and the results we have achieved. The businesses that participated in the exhibitions and trade mission are happy, and the general impression is that we have succeeded in showing the diversity of Latvia in many fields, such as culture, tourism, technology, education, logistics, science, innovation etc. The UAE has been a very good host for Latvia, and both companies and visitors not only highly appreciated the content we offered, but also expressed active interest in our country in general,” Inga Ulmane revealed.
Latvian companies to join trade missions in February: an opportunity to find new partnerships in food and design industries
Dubai will also see two trade missions in February: the food industry trade mission will take place between 15 and 22 February as part of the Gulfood and EXPO 2020 Dubai fairs, while the Latvian design, accessory, fashion, interior design and art object producer trade mission is planned to run between 18 and 24 February.
14 Latvian companies will join the food industry trade mission: ‘Markol’ (Zaķumuižas ūdens), ‘Kainaiži’ (Birzī), ‘Madona Uguns siers’, ‘Pernes L’ (Long Chips), ‘Premium Chocolate’ (NelleUlla), ‘Soira’, ‘Rāmkalni Nordeco’, ‘Felici’ (Graci Functional Cereals), ‘Leobella’, ‘Māris&Co’, ‘Coffee Ritz’, ‘Smartfoody’ (The Beginnings), ‘Cannelle Bakery’, ‘Very Berry’.
“Latvian businesses have shown very much interest in participating in the trade mission, the reason being that the mission will coincide with Gulfood, which is the region’s biggest and most important food fair visited by a broad range of potential partners. Many of the fourteen companies that joined this year’s mission already have experience in the UAE market, though some are only planning to begin exports. This is why it is important to point out that for Latvian businesses, the trade mission will be an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge not only about the UAE, but also about market trends in the entire region: an important step for these companies to be fully prepared to meet the expectations of these markets and to properly adapt these products for exports. An indisputable advantage of the mission is that local consultants arrange meetings with partners that specific companies find interesting and relevant, which helps build their cooperation,” said Anna Daudziņa, Senior Project Manager at the Export Promotion Division of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).
On 18 February, simultaneously with the food industry trade mission, the Latvian pavilion at EXPO will host a B2B networking event for Latvian companies to meet businesses from all over the world that currently visit EXPO 2020 Dubai.
Meanwhile, the Latvian design, accessory, fashion, interior design and art object industry trade mission will include companies such as ‘Sofia Riga’ (jewellery), ‘PrintArt’ (corrective clothing), ‘RIPA’ (fashion products), ‘Radošā darbnīca LM’ (textile products), ‘Aretai’ (speakers), ‘RO STUDIO’ (jewellery), ‘Vaidava Ceramics’ (designer tableware), ‘Etna Design’ (special designer hanging chairs), ‘VASKALA’ (leather products), and ‘LITE candles’ (scented candles).
“The companies that will join this trade mission will be very diverse in terms of the field they are working in, their experience, and their revenue. Some of them have already done business in the Middle East, because we already have a few national exhibitions and design fairs under our belt that took place in Dubai. But there are also differences in the profiles of potential business partners and clients that we would like to appeal to. Some of the companies will meet retail chains and concept design shops, though we are also looking at hotels and spas, which we can offer textile products, as well as furniture. The construction and interior design industries are still growing rapidly in the Middle East, and there is high demand for interior design and appropriate design objects and furniture, which for Latvian companies means a good opportunity to find the right niche. Companies go to Dubai with products such as designer tableware, exclusive jewellery, and high-quality electro-acoustic sound amplification equipment, including speaker cabinets,” said Zane Biteniece, Senior Project Manager at the Export Promotion Division of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).
Miks Balodis, Head and Co-founder of ‘Vaidava Ceramics’, pointed out that participation in trade missions plays a critical role in entering export markets: “We are very aware of the potential and the special circumstances of the UAE and Middle Eastern markets. This market is very different from what we are used to in Europe. This is why we must be prepared to adapt the strategies and tactics for growing on a market that we have used so far. Though we’ve always been flexible and open towards various markets, we see our products, high-quality, sustainable, functional designer tableware, to be our biggest advantage. Overall, we are optimistic, and we expect to strike our first partnership during this mission.”
Jānis Irbe, the Owner of ‘Aretai’, which manufactures high-quality loudspeaker systems, particularly noted the value of the opportunities to physically meet potential partners as part of trade missions, emphasising the importance of this in successfully presenting the company’s products: “Our product delivers an outstanding experience, with high-quality sound and refined design. These features are a result of our Northern Concept that focuses on the simplicity of form and sound, on balance and minimalism. Being physically present plays a vital role in letting the potential business partner really see, hear and touch all of this. So, although you can do everything remotely today, in our case, discovering and assessing a product could be compared to visiting a restaurant: it’s something better experienced in person, rather than ordered as take-away. We value meeting our potential partners in person, showing them our premises and showrooms, so that both parties can consider the possibility and the potential of working together. Joining such missions is also a good opportunity for discovering various fine details and contexts characteristic of the market. For our company, this is the second trade mission in the UAE, and this time, we intend to focus more on building new partnerships with shops and distributors selling designer products, and on strengthening our existing contacts with distributors of audio products.”
Latvian producers joining the world’s most sought-after food fair
Gulfood, one of the world’s most prominent food fairs for exploring the Middle Eastern market, will take place until 17 February. Latvian food manufacturers will bring their products to this fair for the ninth year in a row. This year, the fair’s 21 exhibition halls will bring more than 4000 participants from more than 120 countries. In addition to the exhibitions, there are conferences and presentations led by award-winning chefs, heads of businesses and government officials. Manufacturers and market representatives from the Middle and Far East, Africa, South America, Australia and Europe come to visit the fair.
“Gulfood attracts visitors with different priorities, but we can already say that year after year, their interest in high-quality, healthy products is growing, and so accordingly is their desire to pay for them. Looking at manufacturers from other countries, I can say that Latvian businesses always deliver high-quality foods! And if our producers can adapt themselves to the Middle Eastern market culture and withstand the daily price battles, they must be at Gulfood, and they must work with higher-paying clients. Our so-called large and medium manufacturers actually have a relatively low output, which is why they can be flexible in adapting their high-quality products to the taste and consistency that the Middle Eastern consumer expects,” said Daina Saktiņa, Ph D in Econ, Head of the Joint National Exhibition Booth project for the Ministry of Agriculture.
At the same time, Daina Saktiņa noted that innovations were specifically the products by Latvian businesses that stood out: “You can see this in every fair that Latvian producers participate in. In the last three years, the competitions of the Innovation Prize at each Gulfood fair brought them recognition. This year is not an exception; out of 8 categories with 4 product finalists in each of them, we have finalists in 2 categories. Of the many products submitted to this competition every year, the jury always includes products by Latvian companies among its finalists. For Latvian food manufacturers, bio products and innovations form the standard and everyday approach to work today and in the future.”
The Latvian companies to join Gulfood this year will include ‘Markol’, ‘Felici’, ‘King Coffee Service’, ‘Cannelle Bakery’, ‘GPU Nākotne’, ‘Pernes L’, ‘Premium Chocolate’, ‘Tukuma piens’, ‘Smiltenes piens’, ‘Jaunpils pienotava’, ‘Dobeles dzirnavnieks’, ‘Balticovo’, ‘Rāmkalni Nordeco’, ‘Serenes piens’.