Lithuania’s ambassador to Canada thinks his country has a lot to offer B.C.

Trade relations between Canada and Lithuania may be fledgling right now, but Darius Skusevičius spies opportunity

Usually, when I meet with people for business reasons, I bring them a copy of our magazine. I want them to be able to see the product, engage with it and flip through it for potential opportunities they see. Maybe they see themselves or someone they know being a good fit in one of our sections.

So after the office of the Lithuanian ambassador to Canada emailed me about sitting down with Darius Skusevičius, I decided to bring the most recent copy of BCBusiness, to make sure he knew what we were all about. To my surprise, Skusevičius greets me in the lobby of a Downtown Vancouver hotel with his own copy of the magazine.

Skusevičius’s edition, published in 2012, is admittedly quite a bit thicker than mine. And he immediately flips to an article by Roberta Staley called “Rise of the Cyclotron” (for which Staley won a Western Magazine Award). As it turns out, Advanced Cyclotron Systems, a Richmond-based manufacturer, is currently installing its nuclear medicine tech in Lithuania. Skusevičius hopes and think it’s the first of many links between the country and B.C.

“We understand that for Canada, the most natural trade partner is the U.S.,” he says. “But what we discovered during COVID is that some trade can be done no matter what the distance is.”

There are some Lithuanian exports that are popular in Canada, after all. The country is a big exporter of wood and furniture and was the place of origin for the popular VPN service NordVPN. Teltonika, a Lithuanian-based internet-of-things provider has recently made inroads in Toronto.

Still, trade between the two countries remains relatively low—Canada is in the 30-to-40 range in most categories when it comes to trade with Lithuania, according to Skusevičius. But he says that’s a good thing, because it has room to grow: “Canada just upgraded its office. Before this year, Canada had one embassy in Riga for three Baltic states. Now we’ve just got a full-fledged embassy and will add another person next year.”

In Canada, Skusevičius notes that there are about 60,000 people who claim to have relations to Lithuania. In B.C., where the “Lithuanian professionals of B.C. are starting up their group, finally,” according to Skusevičius, that number is around 5,000. But some of the industries Lithuania is specializing in, like life sciences, ICT (information and communications technology) and fintech could end up resulting in some collaboration with B.C.

“We have a really big pool of ICT specialists, and many international companies are setting up service centres in Lithuania,” says Skusevičius, who name drops Western Union as an example. He also notes that, for any businesses in fintech, being in Lithuanaia means that you are inside the EU internal market and free to access the rest of the union.

“We’re a small country—flexible, adoptable,” says Skusevičius. “If someone wants to invest, we always take a tailor-made approach and bave dedicated experts working on each case. In big countries you get put in the line and have to wait. We have much more flexibility. In major cities, 80 percent of people have [post-secondary] education, almost everybody speaks English. It’s a practical destination.”