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Latvia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The government changed its budgetary priorities, refocusing expenditure towards healthcare infrastructure, human capital, digital technologies and innovation. In March, Latvia announced support measures to reduce the negative impact of the COVID-19 virus pandemic of EUR2 billion (6.6% of GDP) and plans to invest another EUR2 billion by 2022 to support the economy. The five-party government is likely to remain relatively stable, but changes to ministerial posts are probable. The risk of extended negotiations among coalition partners that usually slow policy-making will probably decrease in 2020 given the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. GDP is expected to contract by around 7.3% in 2020 as the outbreak of COVID-19 virus will affect domestic and foreign demand. Unemployment is expected to rise as small businesses and some sectors, especially the entertainment and restaurants and hotels industries, will suffer despite government support. Retail sector and transport, which comprise a sizeable share of the total economy, will be affected significantly, too. The rebound is expected to be limited in 2021 as the manufacturing sector will also feel the hit with some delay due to weaker foreign demand while domestic demand growth will be limited by weaker expectations and likely end to purchasing power growth as least in 2020. The economy is expected to grow by 3.2% in 2021. Continued efforts to tackle corruption and money laundering problems and to reduce the shadow economy are likely. Latvia has faced international pressure, especially from the US, to improve its anti-corruption efforts and money-laundering legislation and is unlikely to deviate from this policy course. Latvia remains economically vulnerable to deteriorated relations with Russia following the 2014 Ukraine crisis. Latvia will continue seeking increased diversification away from Russia. Russian military aircraft activity over the Baltic Sea is likely to continue along with increased Russian naval presence in the territorial waters of the three Baltic states.
Last update: June 17, 2020

Operational Outlook

The government is likely to increase regulatory predictability and continue to reduce the administrative burden. Exerting influence by the legislature and executive could be observed in the judiciary. Despite anti-graft measures, implementation remains patchy, but is likely to improve. More corruption investigations are probable. Privatisations in the energy, forestry, and defence sectors are unlikely as this is prohibited by law. The country's infrastructure is good in regional terms, but still underdeveloped by West European standards. Labour strikes are peaceful and unlikely to cause business disruption. Risk of strikes in the healthcare sector is moderate.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Terrorism

Moderate

There are no known terrorist organisations in Latvia and the domestic terrorist threat is low. Nevertheless, Latvia's membership to the Schengen zone makes terrorists' movements in and out of the country easier, increasing the overall terrorism score to moderate. Potential targets include 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, especially around NATO and Russian military exercises in the Baltic region and around events such as Latvia's Independence Day in November.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Crime

Violent crime risks in Latvia are low. Organised criminal groups are primarily involved in money laundering, human and drug trafficking, car thefts, smuggling, and cyber-crime. Organised crime is affected by two groups of factors: external – geographic location, mainly transit routes through Latvia from Asia to Western Europe – and internal – shadow economy and social stratification. Money laundering has been a severe problem for Latvia, although the authorities have been increasingly focused on improving the regulatory framework, levelling it up to international standards and in line with the wider trend across the EU. Latvia is a source and transit country for human trafficking, with the primary routes leading to Western Europe.

Last update: June 17, 2020

War Risks

Although Russia is unlikely to undertake a direct military offensive, it will probably 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. Latvia's concerns about Russian expansionism have led to increased defence spending. From 2018 to 2020, Latvia allocated 2% of GDP for defence – the NATO defence spending target– up from 1.7% of GDP in 2017.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Social Stability

Elevated

Protest activity is likely to decrease in 2020 owing to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus pandemic and the introduced restrictive emergency measures. Under normal circumstances, there is a moderate likelihood of non-violent protests by ethnic Russians in Riga and Daugavpils against perceived discrimination or instigated by Kremlin-backed provocateurs. Such demonstrations can 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. The likelihood of peaceful protests by healthcare sector workers will probably decrease in 2020.

Last update: March 28, 2020

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

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).

Other Vaccinations

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

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.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +371
Police: 02
Ambulance: 03

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019