Foreign investors in Latvia retain concerns about workforce, effectiveness of reforms

The Foreign Investors Council in Latvia (FICIL) released its influential annual report January 9 at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) in Rīga.

It is the fourth year in a row that FICIL has carried out an assessment of foreign investors’ sentiment regarding the developments of the business environment in Latvia, with Professor Arnis Sauka of the Center for Sustainable Business at SSE Riga conducting the research.

FICIL chairwoman Julia Sundberg told the audience 2018 had been "a mix of salt and sweet... as the reputation crisis of the financial sector hit... we will need to work together to recuperate from the damage of this reputational hit."

The future assessment of progress to be made by the Council of Europe's anti money laundering organization Moneyval makes it "very very crucial that this [work] is done well," said Sundberg, adding that "Tomorrow is the consequence of now".

Prof Sauka's data suggested overall sentiment remained generally the same in 2018 as in 2017, though the total level of foreign investment in Latvia had fallen year-on-year.

Foreign investors "remain quite skeptical" about current efforts at educational reform and workforce availability was seen as an increasingly pressing issue, he said.

The research is based upon interviews with 40 of the largest foreign-owned companies in Latvia, paying around 9% of Latvia's tax revenue and employing 4% of the workforce.

The full data is now available to view at the FICIL website.

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