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20 years of Flemish-Lithuanian relations: Flanders opens a new FIT office in Lithuania

On 10 May, Flanders’ Minister-President Geert Bourgeois opened a new office of Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) in Vilnius, Lithuania. The representation will operate in the entire Baltic region and cover not only Lithuania but Latvia and Estonia as well. The region’s strategic position is of paramount importance in opening an office abroad at this precise location.

Flanders and Lithuania have been cooperating for exactly 20 years. In order to celebrate this, the Minister-President is currently visiting Lithuania. Latvia and Estonia, each time with a busy political, academic economic and cultural programme. The Minister-President will be accompanied by both a Flemish port delegation and representatives from the academic world, the IT and the biotech sectors. 

Why the Baltic states?

  • In 2015, Flemish exports to the 3 Baltic states totalled 1.28 billion euros. Lithuania is the most important market (700 million euros), followed by Latvia (335 million euros) and Estonia (245 million euros).
  • In the period 2005-2015, Flemish exports to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia increased by 20%, 157% and 58% respectively.
  • Chemical (22.9%) and pharmaceutical (12.1%) products especially make their way to Lithuania. Latvia imports machinery (19.3%) and fruit (18.1%), whereas Estonia imports vehicles (18.1%) and machinery (12.5%) from Flanders.
  • Flanders accounts for 88% of Belgian exports to Lithuania, 90% to Latvia and 83% to Estonia.
  • Given the strategic position of the 3 republics at the Baltic Sea, considerable trade contacts exist between the Flemish ports and their Baltic counterparts.

What is on the mission’s programme?

  • Visit to the Free Port of Riga in Latvia with a delegation of Flemish ports and logistic businesses.
  • Signature of a MoU between the Port of Antwerp and the Port of Klaipėda.
  • Signature of an agreement between Flanders Bio and Enterprise Lithuania for cooperation in the field of biotechnology.
  • Networking between Flemish and Lithuanian businesspeople.
  • Visit to the Muuga Harbour and the branch of Katoen Natie in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Tech dinner with Estonian ICT companies in the presence of iMinds (Flemish digital research centre) and Eggsplore (Flemish fintech cluster).

By opening a Flanders Investment & Trade office in Vilnius for the Baltic states, Flanders sends out a clear message on the growing importance of the region for the Flemish economy. As a result of their strategic position at the Baltic Sea, the various seaports play an important role for the Flemish ports. Moreover, the region presents itself as an economic gateway to other countries in North East Europe.

Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of Flanders

In order to be able to respond rapidly to a changing economic reality, and to detect possible opportunities for our companies, Flanders Investment & Trade annually takes a closer look at its network of offices. This year as well we reinforce our network at strategic locations all around the world. Tomorrow we open an office in Vilnius (Lithuania). Later this year new offices will follow in Lagos (Nigeria), Houston (USA) and Yagon (Myanmar). With a strong network of offices in more than 100 locations around the world, FIT provides daily assistance to Flemish companies in order to reap international success.

Claire Tillekaerts, CEO Flanders Investment & Trade

10 May 2016