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RIGA - Latvia’s economy grew on an annual basis for the first time in 10 quarters in the three months ending in September as an increase in both exports and manufacturing ended the European Union’s longest decline in economic output, reports Bloomberg. The economy expanded 2.9 percent, higher than a flash estimate of 2.7 percent growth, the statistics office in Riga said on Dec. 9. The office revised quarterly growth to 0.9 percent from a previous estimate of 0.8 percent.
Industrial production expanded 19.4 percent in the third quarter and exports increased to a record 460.7 million lats (658.1 million euros) in September. The economy may contract 0.4 percent this year, compared with an earlier forecast for a 4 percent contraction, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said in parliament on Dec. 9.
In the first nine months of the year, compared to the first nine months of last year, Latvia’s export volume has increased by 29 percent, reaching 3.3 billion lats, reports Nozare.lv.
The country’s foreign trade turnover has increased by 22 percent, Economy Minister Artis Kampars said during a business forum organized by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia on Dec. 9. He explained that the increase in exports, increase in foreign investment, gradual increase in consumer spending, the stabilization of the situation within the job market, the increase in producer prices and other national economic figures have lead to Latvia’s increase in its gross domestic product.
“Economic growth figures are gradually improving, and there is basis to believe that these figures will lead to sustainable growth of the national economy. The government’s achievements in implementing a friendlier business environment have been heard abroad as well, with Latvia moving up three positions in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ rating, to 24th place, as well as the increase of Latvia’s credit rating by Standard&Poor’s,” the minister pointed out. Kampars also emphasized that the Latvian government’s new business motto will be ‘faster, cheaper and less bureaucracy.’
Standard&Poor’s raised the country’s credit rating one notch, to BB+, one level below investment grade, on Dec. 7.