On Friday, 26 March, at a conference organised by the Baltic Assembly (BA), parliamentarians discussed joint measures aimed at stabilising the economies of the Baltic States and reviving competitiveness.Participants of the conference were of the same opinion that the Baltic States have to develop a similar tax system and harmonise also other entrepreneurship-related conditions. Mr. Vents Armands Krauklis, chairman of the BA Economic Affairs, Communications and Informatics Committee, admitted that a gradual progress towards harmonising the business environment can be observed; nevertheless, the pace could be more rapid. Mr. Bronius Pauža, member of the Lithuanian parliament, invited all Baltic States to cooperate on common projects by paying particular attention to large energy-related projects.Upon addressing parliamentarians and economic experts from the Baltic States, H.E. Mrs. Judith Garber, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, admitted that the Baltic States should not identify themselves as small countries because they are member states of the European Union. For the potential U.S. investors it means a certain security and predictability; however, at the same time one has to take into account more complex regulations. In order to attract more foreign investments, it is necessary to focus on implementing structural reforms, combating the shadow economy and preparing a highly-qualified labour force, suggested Mrs. Garber.A considerable debate was held on Estonia’s intentions to introduce the euro as early as in January 2011. Mr. Alfs Vanags, Director of the Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, expressed an opinion that such an action would not promote the development of the region as a whole. Mr. Krauklis, on the other hand, acknowledged: “Even if this does not bring unambiguous economical benefit to the other Baltic States, for the sake of the long-term development of the region, the Baltic Assembly has shown political support to Estonia in its attempts to introduce the euro as soon as possible.” Mr. Peep Aru, Riigikogu representative, explained that introducing the euro was not Estonia’s aim in itself, but it was rather needed in order to achieve economic objectives. Mrs. Ērika Zommere, President of the Baltic Assembly, pointed out: “Whether we like it or not, the world perceives the Baltic States as a cohesive whole, and now, more than ever before, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have to join their forces in order to shape common health, economy, and security policies.” Concluding the conference Mrs. Zommere stated that close cooperation with experts will continue and that it is planned to hold a number of high-level conferences during the Latvian presidency.Photos from the meeting are available at: www.flickr.com/saeima
Video from the meeting is available at: www.youtube.com/SaeimaSAB
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