Latvia – Fastest growing economy in the Baltics – just in an hour’s distance from Finland

Kristīne Našeniece, Ambassador of Latvia to Finland

Economic outlook of Latvia today and what are the prospects for the country? Latvia is a diverse, centrally located Baltic economy (between Estonia and Lithuania) with considerable growth potential. In 2018, Latvia grew by 4.8%, which is the fastest growth rate among all the three Baltic countries. Latvia is situated in an arm’s length from Finland – direct flights from Helsinki, Turku and Tampere to the Riga international airport take about one hour. Rail Baltica railway (to be built by 2026) will bring Finland and Latvia, the Baltics and Nordics even closer together. Let me highlight three reasons, which make me optimistic about the future development of my country and its economy, and three factors, which, to my mind, require further efforts. First reason for optimism is the words said by the President of Latvia when celebrating Latvia’s 100-year birthday in 2018. He said that, in his view, Latvia is now sufficiently mature to be able “to give to the world, and not only ask and take”[1]. When questioned[2] about the challenges that lie ahead of Latvia for the next 100 years, he spoke about the importance of the unity of Europe, the importance for Latvia to take an active part in the decision making in Europe and strengthening it. At the same time, he underlined that “diminishing social inequality in Latvia” is the main task for Latvia internally, in order to build a more cohesive society. Second reason for optimism is the new Government’s programme[3]. The new Government more clearly than the previous one speaks about the necessity for the Latvian economy to move to a higher added value and more innovative economy, including exports. It also highlights more than before the importance of equality and justice, well-functioning health and education sector in order to have solid foundations for development. And the third reason for optimism as to the future of Latvia and its economy, is, in my opinion, the crystal clearness about Latvia’s “strongly Western geopolitical orientation”, as expressed by the Government, as well as the President.

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