HIGHER TARIFF ON MARGARINE WILL DO NO GOOD: The decision to increase import tariffs on margarine, approved by the Parliament in the second reading Oct. 15, will entail negative consequences for Latvia, said Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs. The Parliament supported a proposal to increase the basic import rate on margarine from 1 percent to 20 percent. For those countries, with which Latvia's has signed a free trade agreement, the rate will increase from 0.5 percent to 1 percent. Birkavs said consumers, farmers and the state will gain nothing from this decision. "We must take into consideration that we are part of the international community and that by increasing customs tariffs [...] we can become losers," Birkavs said. MP Maris Vitols, a member of the Parliament's Budget and Finance Committee, said "[The higher tariff] will make Latvia's butter and milk producers more competitive in Latvia." Vitols said Latvia could increase sales of butter on the domestic market and create preconditions for setting up a margarine production facility in Latvia. These amendments should be adopted in the third reading to enter into force.
DAIRY'S WORKERS WILL HAVE MORE FREE TIME: The dairy Tallinna Piimatoostus announced it will cut work time and wages in November due to an overall deterioration of the economic environment. Unexpected changes in Estonia's economic situation, caused by the Russian crisis and increased competition on the domestic market, require reorientation of its business and adoption of temporary saving measures, said spokeswoman Kristina Seimann. The company's management will get a couple of hours off, but workers at the production, sales and logistics departments will continue working full time also in November to ensure uninterrupted output and maintain the company's position on the market. "Workers' wages will correspond to their work time," she said. The dairy company expects to restore production at June's level and start working full time again by the end of this year, she added.
LITHUANIA RAISES IMPORT TARIFFS: The Lithuanian government decided to raise import duties on goods from Russia, some CIS states, and some Latin American and African countries, with which it has no trade agreements. Economics Minister Vincas Babilius said the government made this step in an effort to support Lithuanian agriculture, fertilizer and ceramic tile producers. Up until now ammonium nitrate fertilizers could have been imported without paying customs duties, but now they will be taxed at 6.5 percent. According to Babilius, these revenues will go to farmers to compensate for expenses incurred by the use of imported fertilizers. "The decision is linked to the Russian crisis, and is a temporary measure which will be revoked after the Russian crisis ends," Babilius said. Duties on beef jumped from 20 percent to 50 percent, on pork they increased from 30 percent to 40 percent and on domestic poultry from 25 percent to 50 percent. Custom tariffs have also been raised on certain milk products. Imported milk and cream will now be more expensive by 10 percent to 15 percent.
FISHERIES ASK GOVERNMENTS FOR HELP: Representatives of Baltic fishery organizations decided at their Oct. 15 meeting in Riga that each country's government should solve those problems connected with fish exports to Russia. Janis Arnicans, president of the Latvian Fisheries Association, said, "We agreed to turn to our governments to make a centralized move to Moscow. [The problem] should be solved at the governmental level because we cannot do anything on our own." Estonian representatives decided to ask the government to guarantee a $27-million loan. Arnicans said Latvian fisheries have not decided to ask for a guarantee yet because they don't know the possible interest rates. At their Sept. 4 meeting, Baltic fisheries agreed that they should work out a common trade policy for the Eastern market that would guarantee them a certain price level. However, they still have not worked out a concrete mechanism to ensure unified prices on the Eastern market.