H.E. Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania, and H.E. Engr. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, inaugurated the ‘UAE- Lithuania Economic Forum' in Dubai, held as part of the visit of H.E. Grybauskaite and her accompanying official and business delegation to the UAE.
The first of its kind forum between the two countries organized by the Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) was attended by a number of high-profile officials from both sides, as well as representatives of companies and business and the investment communities of the two countries. There was a total of 200 participants, 50 of which were from Lithuanian trading and investment companies.
Attendees from the UAE side included Ministry of Economy officials H.E. Engr. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Alshehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs; H.E. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and Industry; H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Minister's Advisor for Tourism Affairs; and H.E. Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade Affairs. Also present were Majid Hamad Rahama Al Shamsi, 1st Vice Chairman of DCCI; H.E. Khalifa Al Mansouri, Acting Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development; Humaid Mohammed bin Salim, Secretary-General of the Federation of UAE's Chambers of Commerce and Industry; H.E. Saeed Al Khyeli, Director General of ZonesCorp; and other officials and representatives from the private sector.
The Lithuanian delegation included H.E. Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania; H.E. Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Minister of Energy; H.E. Arvydas Daunoravičius, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the UAE; and a number of Lithuanian officials and businessmen.
The forum discussed the means to empower bilateral economic relations to achieve mutual interests and developmental aspirations. It also discussed opportunities for launching new paths of cooperation in various economic, trade and investment fields. The group focused on developing a diversified roadmap for enhancing cooperation and coordination at the governmental and private levels to explore the promising potentials of the economic environments of both countries. It also discussed the development of effective frameworks for establishing sustainable partnerships between the countries' business communities in areas and sectors of common interest, particularly innovation, small- and medium-sized enterprises, fabrics and food, information and communications technology (ICT), and renewable energy.
H.E. President Grybauskaitė inaugurated the forum with a speech emphasizing her country's keenness to establish strong relations with the UAE in various fields of common interest. She noted that Lithuanian relations with the UAE is the most dynamic in the region. She expressed Lithuania's desire to take advantage of the UAE's important economic position as a leading trade, financial, and logistic hub, affirming her country's support for economic cooperation between the UAE and the Baltic region and the European Union.
H.E. added that Lithuania views the Economic Forum as an important platform for further developing existing economic relations and strengthening links between the business communities of both countries to enhance their access to each other's local and regional markets and develop their trade and investment capabilities. She pointed out that the future of cooperation and relations between the two countries relies on major growth capabilities.
The Lithuanian President further stated that the focus of the UAE's developmental vision on sectors related to knowledge, innovation, diversification and building the future, coincides with the vital Lithuanian economy in the Baltic region and the state's achievements in the fields of energy, information technology, innovation and industry. She also noted the mutual interest in trade and investment cooperation in the fields of food security and Halal products, which she said provides a robust foundation for establishing strong partnerships between their countries.
H.E. Engr. Al Mansoori said: “Events such as this forum are fundamental to our growing bilateral relations as they provide a platform where we can consistently strengthen communications, identify strategic areas of common interest, and formulate clear plans for maximizing business and investment opportunities. I am particularly excited over the signing of the agreement on economic and technical cooperation, which constitutes one of the major outcomes of H.E. President Grybauskaite's visit and which will push further our joint economic agenda. The Joint Economic Committee arising from our agreement will be crucial to the creation of an effective organizational framework for us to collaboratively boost our economic cooperation. It will also provide valuable mechanisms for facilitating closer ties between our business communities.”
“We aim to determine how we can help Lithuania benefit from our fertile business environment and our prominent role as an economic gateway between East and West. We are especially interested in promising partnerships in manufacturing – particularly construction materials, textiles, fabrics and packaging; food – particularly dairy products; as well as information technology and engineering services. We also seek new agreements beyond our current bilateral accords on Air Transport and the Avoidance of Double Taxation. It is imperative that we develop essential legal frameworks for ensuring enduring and highly productive partnerships in as many areas of common interest as we can,” he added.
“We are fully committed to helping Lithuanian companies achieve unparalleled growth in the UAE and benefit from our access to other dynamic Arab markets. We also express our shared desire to develop national capacities and building highly efficient human capital, with a focus on empowering women and broadening their contributions to economic and social development. For our part, we at the Ministry of Economy assure our existing and potential Lithuanian partners that we will uphold economic policies and legislations conducive to a competitive knowledge economy; constantly enhance our country's investment appeal; ensure quality, efficiency and transparency in all relevant administrative services; and protect their rights and interests,” H.E. concluded.
H.E. Majid Al Shamsi, 1st Vice Chairman, DCCI, said: “There is tremendous potential to expand trade and investment ties between the UAE and Lithuania and create new opportunities for our business communities. H.E. Grybauskaitė's visit reflects Lithuania's strong commitment to enhancing our economic cooperation. The forum is an ideal platform to showcase the UAE's trade and investment appeal for Lithuanian companies, as well as the potential to boost collaboration in key areas such as information technology, food security, and renewable energy.”
“The Dubai Chamber is committed to protecting the interests of the local business community and providing all facilities and resources to ensure that trade with Lithuania continues to flourish. This falls in line with our strategy of reaching out to promising markets and providing our 210,000 members with access to new trade and investment opportunities. We are confident that Dubai's strategic plans can be aligned with Lithuania's goals and ambitions.”
Bovelas Gudzios, the Founder of the Lithuanian Businessmen Association in Dubai, delivered a speech in which he emphasized tangible growth through cooperation between the private sectors of Lithuania and the UAE counterpart in several areas. He referred to the banking, financial services, technology and telecommunications sectors and particularly noted biotechnology, a field where Lithuanian companies have made a distinguished presence. He pointed out that the Lithuanian community is increasing in the UAE parallel to the entry of more Lithuanian companies, which he said opens up wider horizons for the growth of trade and investment between the two countries in the coming years.
The forum reviewed main areas of cooperation and highlighted prominent investment opportunities available in the two countries. H.E. the Lithuanian Minister of Energy reviewed major trade and investment opportunities in conventional and renewable energy projects, emphasizing that energy is one of the most promising sectors for developing their countries' future capabilities.
For her part, Hind Al Youha, Director of Investment Department at the UAE Ministry of Economy, presented the advantages and incentives of the UAE's investment environment and the priority sectors under the UAE's economic agenda. The presentation also reviewed the UAE's economic, trade, and investment growth indices as well as key laws and regulations supportive of business growth, competitiveness, and the knowledge economy.
Diana Kleiponi, Director of the Lithuanian Economic Enterprise Agency, also gave a presentation on the elements of the Lithuanian economy, which grew by 2.3 per cent in 2016 and is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2017. He noted that Lithuania leads the Baltic region in terms of innovation and is also distinguished by the ease of doing business, especially for start-up companies which he said have doubled five-fold over the past five years. He also referred to the expansion of the scientific research sector, which he explained is of great interest in light of the presence of advanced local research centers. He pointed out advancements in the technology, internet and electronic banking sectors, among others, as well.
For his part, Ibrahim Ahly, Director of the Investment Promotion Division at Dubai FDI, discussed Dubai's economic environment. He noted the importance of the emirate's strategic location and sectors contributing to the GDP – including trade, real estate, logistics services, transportation, financial services, manufacturing, and hospitality. He also highlighted the main features of the emirate's advanced infrastructure and the primary objectives of Dubai Plan 2021. He referred to the plan's focus on transformation into a smart city, and major economic events including EXPO 2020. He enumerated the benefits of Dubai's globally leading aviation sector as well.
The forum concluded with meetings between the participating investors and businessmen who discussed the best means to exchange expertise and the best practices in the business sector. They also explored opportunities for establishing joint projects and identifying trade and investment sectors that meet the aspirations of both sides.
Other forum participants included representatives of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce; the Ajman Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the UAE Businesswomen Council; the EXPO 2020 Dubai Office; the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA); the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (‘Shurooq'); the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority; and a number of UAE-based investment companies.