In Latvia there are about 16 thousand industrial enterprises consistently yielding 10-12% of Latvia’s GDP.
They of course are not the former giants like VEF, RAF and other leaders of Latvian industry, which yet at the end of the last century ceased to exist making way to their survived industrial heirs. Today, hundreds or even thousands of workers are no longer flocking at entrance gates of factories. Today’s Latvian manufacturing enterprise is an assembly plant with an average of 3-5 employees and 100-200 thousand EUR annual turnover.
Something of a larger scale immediately draws an increased attention (and moral support) of authorities. For example, an enterprise for the production of flexible packaging materials opened in Ventspils last week, where 200 jobs are only planned, already aroused the interest of authorities - the opening ceremony was personally attended by LR President Raimonds Vejonis. However, it (200 new jobs) is rather an exception to the rules of Latvian industry.
Drawback of numerous Latvian small-size factories is that they cannot compete on European market.
Advantage - in their mobility, the ability of quickly adaptation to market requirements. Which is especially important in the sphere of export.
Last year was successful for exporters of building materials, chemical and pharmaceutical products, as well as wood and its products, food products and agricultural products.
All of them quite skillfully respond to the increase/fall in demand on foreign markets. Thus, the predictable losses in Russian direction were added by a decline in the value of commodity exports to Lithuania, Poland and Algeria. These losses have been more than compensated by reorientation towards markets such as Germany (cereals, rapeseed and fish, vehicles), Denmark (cereals, fish, equipment and machinery, furniture) and Sweden (construction materials).
Success of woodworking, the engine of export industry, can be distinguished individually. Last year the value of exports of Latvian forest products has reached a record figure of € 2.102 billion, which is by 4.6% more than in 2015.
In the coming year, the main and so far hypothetical threat for Latvian industry remains the growth of protectionism in European countries. For the sake of justice, the industrial “patriotism” so far appears only in speeches of particular politicians. It is doubtful that the same Brits or Frenchmen for some populist reasons would begin to refuse high quality and relatively cheap products with the brand “Made in Latvia”.
It is another matter that these products should continue to be high quality and affordable. And therefore competitive.