RIGA - After accession to the EU, over 80 percent of Latvia's foreign trade will be with the EU internal market comprising of 25 countries, said a representative of the Economy Ministry.
Dina Eglite, director of the foreign economic relations trade policy department, speaking at a conference, "Latvian Businessman - EU Businessman," last week, said that less than 20 percent of foreign trade will be with EU nonmembers. Of these, Russia was likely to be Latvia's biggest export partner at $155.8 million (forecast based on 2003 statistics), followed by the U.S.A. ($83.7 million), Ukraine ($60.3 million), Norway, Belarus, Japan, China, Iceland, Switzerland and Egypt, said Eglite.
Russia will also be Latvia's largest import partner outside the EU, with an estimated value of $455.4 million, followed by Belarus ($194.6 million), Switzerland ($99.2 million), Ukraine, the U.S.A., Norway and China.
With the accession, new member states will have to follow the EU common trade policy, including all bilateral agreements made by the EU, common foreign trade tariffs, and so on. Eglite said that the EU's existing agreements with nonmembers would expand Latvia's trade opportunities since Latvia itself won't be able to sign as many bilateral free trade agreements as the union.
At the same time, larger import duties will be applied to goods from countries that do not have special agreements with the EU. However, the overall change in import tariffs will not be too large, ranging from nil to 3 percent, said Eglite.
Enlargement of the EU will create the world's largest common market with over 450 million consumers.