Government ready to help companies reorient their businesses away from Russia and Belarus to other countries - Silina

  • 2024-03-20
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The government is ready to help companies pivot their businesses away from Russia and Belarus to other countries, Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) said after a meeting with President Edgars Rinkevics on Wednesday.

Silina called on companies to redirect their businesses to other countries as soon as possible, as trade with Russia and Belarus will neither be secure nor financially viable in the near future, nor will the state be able to help such companies.

At the same time, Silina expressed the government's readiness to help companies find new markets. "The Economics Ministry is ready to look for new investment projects, new transit routes. Ports also need to revise their routes," she said.

As to the ongoing discussion about the flow of manganese ore to Russia for the Russian military industry's needs, it is puzzling that the public believes the government is doing nothing on the issue, said Silina. On the contrary, the Latvian government's reaction has been swift, raising the issue at the European Union level, and it will bear fruit, she emphasized.

Rinkevics also told reporters that he had "every reason to believe that the government and the head of government are working very hard on this issue".

At the same time, the transit business should be seen in a broader context, in the light of increasing exports to the so-called third countries, emphasized the president.

"As long as we all talk politely and nicely about the transit ban to Russia, and then we see that suddenly [large trade] figures appear in other directions, namely to countries that have not joined the EU sanctions against Russia, then the effectiveness of the sanctions will be low. This is where I would like to see more activity from the EU institutions," said Rinkevics.

Asked why there is so much focus on reorientation of private businesses, and not much is being said about cooperation with Russia by several state-owned companies, such as LDz Cargo, Rinkevics said that state-owned companies should also stop their economic relations with Russia and Belarus. However, involvement of third countries also needs to be taken into consideration.

The two officials also discussed Silina's recent visit to the United States, security developments, and Silina's meeting with representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties.

As reported, at the European Council's meeting this Thursday and Friday Latvia will present a proposal to include manganese ore and aluminum oxide in the 14th sanctions package. Silina said that so far the first reaction of EU leaders has not been negative, but a debate on the matter is ahead.

Asked whether the government could also decide on solutions at the national level in parallel, Silina said it would be best if the European Commission and the EU could quickly adopt the 14th sanctions package under the same conditions across Europe. At the same time, if no agreement could be reached at the European level, "other solutions will be sought".

"The goal is not to provide Russia with the components that help their economy and war machine. We have reacted immediately by asking for a decision at the European level. (...) We do not need to wait for long discussions. We will demand that this happens as soon as possible. If something gets stuck, we will act nationally," said Silina.