For other business related information on Latvia please see the following useful links:
Central Bank of Latvia
Ministry of Economics
Ministry of Finance
Latvian Investment & Development Agency - LIAA
The American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia
The Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy in Latvia
The Register of Enterprises of the Republic of Latvia
Export and Import Directory of Latvia
The Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia
doing business in latvia
As a thriving democracy, Latvia has consistently pursued liberal economic policies, and it welcomes investments that foster the principles and benefits associated with free markets.
With its relatively small population, Latvia is not a major market, but the country's key advantage is its location, which provides access to its immediate neighbours. The population of the three Baltic States totals almost 7 million, approximately equal to the population of Sweden. On its doorstep are the Scandinavian countries, with 245 million people, Russia and the independent CIS states, with a combined population of 280 million, and Eastern Europe with 100 million inhabitants.
Latvia's main asset is its well-educated workforce, as the country has one of the world's highest number of student per capita. Latvia's skilled and multi-lingual workforce, abundant natural resources, and strategic location form a solid foundation for the country's economy and make Latvia the ideal place to develop your business.
How Latvia can be your business partner by offering the following -
Secure business environment:
• Open market economy: EU, NATO, IMF, World Bank, WTO, ECB, Schengen area and OECD membership
• Clearly defined government policy to strengthen the national economy
• National strategy for investment promotion – Polaris process
o Coordinated cooperation between public, private and academic sectors
o Science and knowledge management
o Increased support for promising sectors
o Assistance throughout project implementation
• Active dialogue with the Foreign Investor's Council in Latvia.
Business friendly environment:
• Latvia ranked 22nd in the World for ease of doing business (World Bank Report, "Doing Business", 2016).
• With only 7 payments necessary to pay all taxes, Latvia is ranked as No.24 in Tax Payments out of 183 countries globally (by PwC and the World Bank, 2015)
• Transparent legal and judicial system, lawful treatment of foreign investors (by law foreign investors have the same rights and duties as local investors).
• Competitive tax system (CIT 15% - amongst the lowest in Europe).
• Four Special Economic Zones *:
o Corporate tax discounts (as high as 80%, CIT in SEZ - 3%)
o 0% VAT and no customs duties
(*) Free Port of Ventspils ranked 7th in the world in terms of its economic potential, cost effectiveness, facilities, transportation, incentives, and other parameters, according to the FT's FDI Magazine's survey of "Global Pree Zones of the Future".
• Services provided by LIAA (free of charge, tailor-made to suit clients' individual needs; and provided during all stages of clients' business projects).
Access to Knowledge and Skills:
• Highly educated and multi-lingual workforce, ready to take on new challenges and well-motivated.
• Northern European culture and work ethic.
• Business knowledge and experience dealing with Russia / CIS.
• Country with most foreign languages spoken per-capita in the EU, according to Eurostat.
Gateway to EU and to the East of Europe:
• European Union border with Russia, making it ideal for east/west trade.
• Three ice-free international ports integrated with well developed transport infrastructure to the East, including a reliable and developed railway system (used by the U.S. and other NATO countries to deliver non-military supplies directly from ships through Latvian ports to Afghanistan, and transit to eastern countries (regularly scheduled container block trains to Moscow and Kazakhstan).
• One of the fastest growing airports in Europe, leading air transportation hub in the region with more than 80 direct connections providing convenient accessibility for business and leisure travel.
• Highly developed communications infrastructure:
o Latvia ranks 6th globally in terms of average internet speed (18.3 Mb/s).
o Latvia ranks 5th globally for broadband connectivity (> 25Mb/s) (by State of the Internet report by Akamai, Q1, 2016).
• Riga, capital of Latvia - ranked as on of the Best Large European City for Cost Effectiveness by FDI Magazine "European Cities and Regions of the Future ".
• Competitive labor costs, relatively low in comparison with the U.S. and Western Europe (4th lowest in the EU according to Eurostat).
• Competitive real estate costs and taxes.
• High productivity - Latvia is a leader among other EU countries with regard to wage adjusted labor productivity (highest value for each wage dollar).
• Stable, single currency - euro, since January 1, 2014
Quality of Life:
• Apart from being the capital of Latvia and the largest city in the three Baltic States, Riga is also Europe's capital of art nouveau architecture and one of the "greenest" cities in the region.
• Historic Center of Riga is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
• Riga in 2014 was European Capital of Culture.
• World Class Opera house, theaters, thriving natural beauty and eco-tourism.
• Latvia has all the conveniences that business people and families need, including services and amenities (international schools and universities, modern and accessible medical care).
For more information about the strengths of different sectors and industries in Latvia, please visit www.polarisprocess.com
The latest Latvian Business Guide can also be downloaded here on the LIAA website.
LIAA - One-Stop-Shop for Foreign Investors and Buyers interested in Latvia
The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) is a state institution reporting to the Ministry of Economy. LIAA offers assistance throughout the process of setting up operations in Latvia, acting as a first point of contact and as a 'one-stop-shop' in assisting investors and in developing tailored solutions to meet their specific needs. The Agency has its own regularly updated database of Latvian enterprises to facilitate partner searches for investment projects and for exporting or subcontracting businesses. For more information about LIAA click here.
LIAA now has a dedicated representative here in the United States:
Head of Representative Office in the USA
Embassy of the Republic of Latvia
2306 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington DC 20008
Tel: +1 202 650 8122
Fax: +1 202 328 2860
Testimonials of U.S. companies operating in Latvia:
CYTEC - global specialty chemicals, HQ in New Jersey
"Our experience in setting up the Shared Services Center to service Cytec locations in Europe and North America has been a very good one. We made the decision to locate our office in Riga in December 2009, we started by recruiting the first wave of employees in May 2010 and we are currently fully staffed with approximately 140 employees. Our Shared Services Center provides services to Cytec entities in the areas of Finance, Human Resources, IT and Procurement. Our decision to choose Latvia was primarily based on the availability of a good pool of talent (university educated, multi-lingual), a good economic business case, and fairly easy access from European cities and from the U.S. into Riga Airport. Also, the availability of the European Structural Fund to support training of our new staff has made it easier to make the operation economically attractive ... Overall, we are very pleased with the employees we have been able to attract and train, and also with the office facility and operation we have established."
GroGlass (NCH Capital Inc) - High technology glass manufacturing
"NCH Capital has been investing in Latvia for almost two decades and our decision to build this high-tech manufacturing facility was a natural extension of our existing portfolio. Our experience building GroGlass further reinforced our positive long-term view on Latvia as a fertile soil for increasing the value of our investments. We were able to attract and train a highly specialized worker base, and we have received tremendous support from LIAA to start our business. The government has been receptive to our requests for improving the taxation environment, in particular extending the tax loss carry forward period. Overall, we feel the advantage of being a European supplier, yet enjoying the benefits of operating a manufacturing facility in a developing country.
Jeld-Wen, Inc. - Window / door manufacturing - HQ in Oregon
"The expectations of our founders mainly have been accomplished. The expected benefits were availability of local raw materials, relatively cheap but skilled and hardworking employees, production accessibility of infrastructure and low income tax rate."
EXIGEN Services - Software / IT - HQ in California
"Came for cost, stayed for quality!. The benefits we had as an investor in a high technology sector were finding an extremely high level resource pool which is experienced with both technology abd customer management, while relatively less expensive than either European or U.S.-based software developers. Also, the fact the Latvian infrastructure is very modern is a significant factor, since travel, hospitality, and communications are key in order to use the Latvian technical resources effectively. Finally, the fact that Latvia is an EU country and enjoys all the benefits of a European business environment, while still being a "near-shore" location which is economical to outsource is a significant factor for some of our customers, particularly in the finance sector.