28.08.2020 - LIAA

LIAA offers Belarus entrepreneurs to relocate their business

Considering the political situation in Belarus, Investment and development agency of Latvia LIAA has mobilized resources to provide all necessary assistance to those business representatives who have voiced interest in cooperation with Latvia and want to develop their business in Latvia.

In collaboration with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA), LIAA has set up a quick response team to process visa applications from Belarus faster. The visas and residence permits available to the Belarusian people through the LIAA fast-track program include the so-called Startup Visa for founders of innovative and scalable businesses and their families, the EU Blue Card for highly qualified workers and their families, and the Temporary Residence Permit for those who do not fit the requirements of the first two permits.

Not only does this team provide the documentation required to determine the innovativeness of the business (if applying for the Startup Visa), but also provides guidance throughout the application process. A direct line of communication with the OCMA has been established for faster processing of all visa and residence permits.

“Latvia’s continued investment in talent and innovation, coupled with its strategic location and multi-cultural workforce, has been key to it becoming the central business hub in Northern Europe. With the fast-track visa program, Latvia extends a welcoming hand to Belarusian businesses and talents seeking a safe and modern environment in which they can thrive and innovate.” Said LIAA director Kaspars Rožkalns.

With almost 16,000 vacancies in the IT sector in Latvia, the country provides vast opportunities for highly skilled professionals to establish a comfortable lifestyle in a free environment. The highly developed ICT infrastructure, including widespread high-speed optical fiber internet, over 2,200 free wifi spots, and one of the most stable mobile internet networks in the world, provides fertile ground for researching, testing, validating, and developing IT products and solutions.

"The political instability in Belarus seriously affects also the country’s economic situation. According to the World Bank forecasts, Belarus is to see an economic recession in 2020 which only partly is related with Covid-19 pandemic, and the recession will last for several years. In order to help Belarus companies and specialists to overcome this complicated period more successfully, we invite them to partly or fully transfer their operations to Latvia," said Rožkalns.

Latvia is especially interested in cooperation with Belarus business representatives in ICT, bioeconomy, smart technologies, biomedicine and other medium or high technologies. However, being aware of the current circumstances, Latvia is open also for companies with other business lines.

The most important reasons for Belarus companies to choose Latvia as a place to relocate their business are:

  • Latvia is a member state of EU, NATO, OECD and World Trade organization. 
  • Latvia is currently the safest country in the EU regarding the prevalence of Covid-19.
  • You can register company in Latvia within one day;
  • According to the results of Eurobarometer research, Latvia ranks second among European states for the percentage of residents, who in addition to their mother tongue can speak at least one foreign language: 95% of Latvia’s residents are fluent in one foreign language and 49% can speak at least two foreign languages (1st highest score). 13% can speak at least three foreign languages. Moreover, 44% of respondents acknowledge that they speak a foreign language daily – at work or in their private lives.
  • Most of the employees in the ICT sector are tri-lingual (at least), speaking Latvian, English and Russian.
  • Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia with more than 80,000 inhabitants, is a 4-hour drive away from Minsk, the capital of Belarus, while Riga, the third largest city in Northern Europe and the largest Baltic metropolis, can be reached by car in 6 hours.
  • In Latvia we have biggest ICT hub in Baltics within more than 6500 companies and 40,000 employees. 
  • ICT turnover in 2019 was 3.7 billion euro and it accounts for 4.3% of GDP.
  • 64% of existing investors intend to increase their investments in Latvia (Source: FICIL Sentiment Index 2019).
  • In 2019 Latvia had 16th fastest internet in the world.
  • 11) We have quite a lot of GBS business centers – 50 to be exact – in Latvia with a total of 15k employees.
  • About 70% of start-ups established In Latvia are in or related to fintech.
  • We can offer quality education in a foreign language.
  • It is also easy to work in Latvia as it ranks #19 in Ease of Doing Business (World Bank Doing Business ranking 2020) and #16 globally in Ease of Paying Taxes (PwC Paying Taxes 2020) facilitating new and existing companies to enter and scale.
  • Riga is home to a community of over 75,000 Belarusians, as well as several major Belarusian-owned businesses. With community centers, schools and cultural groups, the Belarusian culture can be explored and maintained in a tight-knit community.

The previous cooperation with Belarusian startups, especially in the ICT sector, shows that many of these companies have high development potential and ability to create a new impulse for the whole industry interacting with Latvian ICT companies. The environment of the technology sector in Latvia is international, and it is relatively easy for foreigners to join it.

Individuals and businesses interested in participating in the fast-track visa program are invited to contact the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia at invest@liaa.gov.lv.

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