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Economy in Latvia has kept growing despite geopolitical situation

BC, Riga, 01.02.2016.Print version
The Latvian economy continued to grow in 2015 despite a tense geopolitical situation in the region, Janis Salmins, vice-director of the structural policy department of the Economics Ministry, told LETA.

Latvia's economic growth rate has been accelerating since the second quarter of 2015. According to the flash estimate of Latvia's GDP growth, released by the Central Statistics Bureau on Friday, during the last quarter of 2015 the economy expanded by 3% against the respective period in 2014, which means that in the full 2015 Latvia's GDP grew by 2.8%.


Domestic demand continued to increase in 2015 as comparatively strong wage growth and weak inflation fuelled private consumption. Investment dynamic, meanwhile, was moderate in 2015.


"Faster investment growth is hampered by entrepreneurs' cautious attitude amid growing external volatility, as well as banks' prudent lending policies. As budget expenditures grew in 2015, so did public consumption," the Economic Ministry's representative explained.


Weak external demand has been affecting Latvia's export growth, which has become more moderate in recent years. Although exports to Russia plummeted in 2015, Latvian producers' overall exports increased. During the first three quarters of 2015, Latvia's exports of goods and services rose 2.2% from the same period a year ago.


Manufacturing showed steady growth last year, expanding by 4.1% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2015, with metalworking and wood processing providing the greatest contribution.

Retail trade also showed strong performance, growing 4.9% from 2014. Meanwhile, transport services and construction declined as compared to 2014.


Latvia's further economic growth will remain largely reliant on export opportunities, which means that the greatest risks to Latvia's economic growth are associated with global economic developments. The Economics Ministry expects that in 2016 GDP growth can reach 3.2%, Salmins said.


In the 4th quarter of 2015 as compared to the corresponding period of 2014, Latvia's seasonally adjusted gross domestic product increased 2.6%, while seasonally non-adjusted GDP increased 3%, according to the Central Statistical Bureau's flash estimate.


The GDP changes were affected by 3% growth of value added in industry and 1% increase in the services sector (without retail trade). Value added in retail trade increased by 3%, while in construction decreased by 7%.

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