RIGA - The Economy Ministry announced last week that Latvia's gross domestic product in 2005 grew approximately 10.3 percent, and that this year economic expansion would likely slow to 8.5 percent.
Minister Krisjanis Karins told the press that Latvia posted the highest rate of growth in the Europe Union and that GDP per capita 's one of the benchmarks for comparative wealth 's had also increased to 46.4 percent of the average EU level, rising by 11.4 percentage points from 2000.
Karins, a member of the center-right New Era party, said that economic activity increased in all sectors of the economy. The highest rate of growth came in the manufacturing industry, where production has been soaring an average 9 percent annually in the years 2001 's 2004.
The timber, mechanical engineering and metalworks industries have contributed most to industrial growth in recent years, according to the Economy Ministry report.
Exports rocketed last year, rising 34 percent in 11 months, as compared to the same period in 2004, said Karins. Food exports increased steeply, but timber, wooden articles and metalwork still remained Latvia's main exports.
The Economy Ministry said that the reforms had strengthened the private sector and macroeconomic conditions favorable for development have been created. Investment continues to grow, contributing to an upgrade in production and strengthening the conviction that such progress will remain steady in the coming years.
In the absence of any external shock, GDP could grow 6 's 8 percent in the medium term, the ministry said.