1 December this year marks the 50th anniversary since date of revocation of the treaty of protectorate with the United Kingdom, establishing the United Arab Emirates as an independent state. In only 50 years the former poor territory in the Persian Gulf, referred to as the Pirate Coast, has grown into a prospering economy with astonishing architectural masterpieces and latest technology not only on land or in the maritime industry, but also in space. we discussed the cooperation between Lithuania and the United Arab Emirates with Aušrinė ARMONAITĖ, Minister of the Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania.
“At the end of october, you visited Dubai, the united Arab emirates, which currently hosts the World EXPO 2020, and have witnessed the marvels of the country’s economic prosperity with your own eyes. in your opinion, where is the secret to their success? After all, the history of the UAE and Lithuanian statehood is only twenty years apart. Could Lithuania take at least a similar leap in twenty years?”
“Climatic conditions and natural resources play a rather important role in the UAE’s economic development. The UAE is on the crossroad between Asia and Africa with trade routes crossing it since the ancient times. However, this country stands out in the region with its impressive investments into innovations and fast growth. This illustrates that achieving wealth from natural resources or small added-value exports is not enough – you can’t stop or wait for some miraculous formula. Innovation, creativity and ambition are probably the best recipe to ensure long-term economic growth.”
“What are Lithuania’s interests and goals in the UAE and the Middle east, north African and south Asian region?”
“We seek for an active and closer dialogue between these countries both in the traditional and high-tech sectors. Both Lithuania and the UAE see their future with technological progress and innovation, so we are particularly interested in developing cooperation in the fields of life sciences, lasers, biotechnology, information and financial technology, and R&D. Moreover, Lithuania is a perfect place for investment projects, and our entrepreneurs have exceptional offers for the UAE, which aims to become a global innovation leader.”
“Which meetings and conversations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi would you regard as significant and promising to Lithuania?”
“During the visit in the UAE, we introduced the local business representatives and authorities to Lithuania’s investment environment, discussing ways of promoting closer business dialogue between the two countries. There were many important meetings, such as with Abdulla Ahmed Al Saleh, Minister of Economy of the UAE, or Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Innovation Park. The delegation of the Prime Minister also met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, at the Lithuanian pavilion in Dubai, we met with Sungwook Moon, South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, to discuss new economic cooperation opportunities between Lithuania and South Korea. The Lithuanian embassy that will soon open in South Korea will also include the office of the commercial attaché. We are looking forward to welcoming the Minister and South Korean entrepreneurs in Lithuania and demonstrating our potential in high-tech industry, financial technologies, biotechnologies and other fields.”
“One of the top events in your schedule was the Lithuania and UAE business forum, organised for the occasion of eXPo 2020. how was it? Did you achieve your goals?”
“Politicians taking part at events are very important in these lands. The purpose of these events is very clear – to support our businesses and help them open the gate into the market of this wealthy country. It was really delighting to see about fifty Lithuanian business companies visiting Dubai to make contacts with local businesses both in order to invest and sell their goods. Let’s hope these contacts will develop into success stories in some time.
We have also already agreed to organise Lithuanian and UAE startup exchange with our and their startups coming to each other’s countries and taking part in the ecosystem. This is a good start and we hope for substantial results for the Lithuanian economy.
We will keep going on business missions abroad to increase Lithuania’s revenue and establish us in all kinds of markets all over the world.”
“What could be the further business cooperation prospects between the two countries? What Lithuanian products and services are interesting to the UAE? What are the goals of the Lithuanian businesses in the emirates?”
“Our goal is to broaden Lithuania’s export opportunities and attract UAE investments to our country. Settling in the UAE market would open new prospects in other Persian Gulf and North African countries. Lithuanian life science companies are ready to offer unique products in the fields of genetic medicine and health care production, based on the UAE market needs.
The most promising sectors in terms of exporting Lithuanian products to the UAE include food, textiles and clothing, also basic metal production.
The UAE is Lithuania’s second-largest partner in the Persian Gulf in terms of the scale of trade. In 2020, the trade turnover between Lithuania and the UAE was 58 million euro. The UAE’s direct investments in Lithuania amounted to 119 million euro.”
Thank you for the conversation.
Interviewed by Zita Tallat-Kelpšaitė