Latvia Country Report
Latvia is expected to continue market-orientated and pro-European policies , ensuring political, economic, and fiscal continuity, and deepening co-operation with NATO and within the EU. In July 2017, a comprehensive tax overhaul was adopted, increasing the corporate tax rate from 15% to 20% but introducing a zero corporate tax on reinvested profit as well. Amid post-2014 Russian economic and energy pressure, the country is likely to continue with policies aimed at increasing diversification away from Moscow. Tense relations with Russia, exacerbated by ever-growing NATO presence in the Baltic region, will probably continue to cause occasional air and maritime border incursions, arbitrary actions against Latvian individuals and business operations in Russia, or restrictions on trade orshared infrastructure.
Latvia is keen to attract foreign investment, probably maintaining an overall favourable-to-businesses tax environment and increasing regulatory predictability. The government will likely continue to reduce the administrative burden since administration is often inefficient, with corruption and bureaucracy. A problem for businesses could be processing times and demands for bribes by underpaid civil servants. Despite anti-graft measures, implementation remains patchy, but is likely to improve. Full privatisations in the energy, forestry and defence sectors are unlikely. The country's infrastructure is good in regional terms, but still underdeveloped by West European standards.
There are no known indigenous terrorist organisations in Latvia and the terrorist threat is low. Nevertheless, Latvia's membership to the Schengen zone makes terrorists' movements in and out of the country easier, with possible targets including NATO military assets and exercises, foreign embassies, and busy tourist or shopping hubs. Cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure and governmental bodies, perpetrated by Russian or pro-Russian individuals or groups are likely in the one-year outlook, especially around NATO and Russian military exercises in the Baltic region and around events such as Latvia's Independence day in November.
Latvia's concerns about Russian expansionism have led to increased defence spending but after reaching the target of 2% of GDP, this trend is likely to slow. The 2018 state budget increases defence expenditures by EUR127 million to EUR 576 million, or 2% of GDP; up from 1.7% of GDP in 2017. Although Russia is unlikely to undertake a direct military offensive , the Kremlin will continue to seek to destabilise Latvian authorities by hybrid warfare tactics (cyber attacks, propaganda, and economic coercion). Airspace and maritime border incursions by Russia are likely to persist. NATO has a de-facto permanent presence in the three Baltic countries.
Mostly non-violent protests by ethnic Russians against perceived discrimination or instigated by Kremlin-backed provocateurs are probable, particularly in Riga and Daugavpils. Such demonstrations are likely to attract up to a few thousand people in Riga. However, the protests are unlikely to receive overall support from the local population or to replicate the hybrid warfare seen in eastern Ukraine. Anti-refugee protests are likely in the event of an increased refugee influx.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The climate is continental in the interior of the country and slightly tempered in coastal regions thanks to the influence of the Baltic Sea. Summers are relatively hot while winters are cold. Conditions are often muddy in the spring due to melting snows.
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