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Investors find new opportunities in Latvia

By Anatol Steven. 01.09.2011

Opportunity watching
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On the lookout for investment opportunities: 160 investment projects requests received in first half of 2011

In a sign of resurging investor sentiment in Latvia following its debilitating recession, it has been revealed that the number of investment project requests received during the first half of 2011 has already exceeded the number for the whole of 2008.
There were 160 such requests made in the first six months of this year, compared to 158 in 2008. Six of these investors have so far made decisions on the implementation of investment projects in Latvia, amounting to €170 million and resulting in more than 150 new jobs.
The numbers suggest that the interest of foreign investors in business opportunities in Latvia is now much greater than it was in 2008.
“After overcoming the crisis, the main emphasis should be on the attraction of investment that will strengthen production and exports as the main driving forces of the Latvian economy as well as create new jobs,” Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis emphasized at a meeting of the Coordination Council for Large and Strategically Important Investment Projects.
Dombrovskis, who also chairs the council, added: “Along with increasing investor interest, the competition for investment between countries has also increased. Therefore, Latvia should act purposefully to successfully compete for investment attraction in Northern Europe and the Baltic region.”
On the initiative of the council, a Strategy for the Attraction of Foreign Direct Investment for 2011-2017 has been developed. The strategy aims ambitiously to change the structure of the national economy, developing a demand- and innovation-based economy as well as attracting FDI to sectors that are oriented towards external demand.
This, the council believes, will help Latvia achieve the highest productivity levels in the Baltic region. The strategy defines the following priority sectors where investment will be encouraged: metalworking and machinery, transport and logistics, IT, life sciences, healthcare, wood processing, green technologies and the food industry. The strategy also identifies the countries on which each sector should specifically focus.
To encourage the attraction of investment, Dombrovskis outlined, the strategy provides five key activities – improving the business environment; improving the education system, linking it with labor market demand; improving business-related infrastructure; improving the court system and reducing the terms for hearing cases; and the provision of investment incentives.
In addition, he said, it is necessary “to purposefully work towards creating a positive image of Latvia in the international environment by positioning Latvia as an attractive country for investment.”
[photo courtesy Latvia Tourism]

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