Foreign trade down by a quarter on last year

Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) provisional data published October 10 show that in August 2023 Latvia had foreign trade turnover of EUR 3.34 billion – at current prices 24.7 % lower than a year ago.

The value of exported goods reduced by 24.5 % and of imported goods by 24.8 %.

In August Latvia exported goods worth EUR 1.47 billion, but imported goods worth EUR 1.88 billion. One crumb of comfort came with data showing exports did at least rise by 7.6% in August compared to July. Imports were up 5.1% on the month.

Compared to August 2022, the foreign trade balance has slightly improved as exports in the total foreign trade amount increased from 43.8 % to 43.9 %. The statistics for foreign trade in goods is shown in actual prices and calculated based on the goods' value in euro, not the physical amount or quantity.

During the first eight months of this year Latvian foreign trade turnover at current prices reached EUR 27.92 billion, which is EUR 2.7 billion or 8.8 % less than in the corresponding period of 2022.

Exports were worth EUR 12.51 billion (a drop of EUR 1.12 billion or 8.2 %), whereas imports were worth EUR 15.41 billion (a fall of EUR 1.58 billion or 9.3 %).

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Calendar and seasonally adjusted data show that over the year (in August 2023 compared to August 2022) the value of exports reduced by 25.5 % and of imports by 23.7 % while over the month (in August 2023 compared to July 2023) the value of exports decreased by 6.5 % and of imports by 3.6 %.

In August, Lithuania (19.3 % of total exports), Estonia (11.9 %), Germany (7.2 %) and the Russian Federation (6.7 %) were the main export partners of Latvia whereas the main import partners were Lithuania (24.1 % of total imports), Poland (10.7 %), Germany (10.4 %) and Estonia (9.4 %).

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The figures showed some interesting information with regard to companies that are still doing business with Russia and Belarus. According to the CSB, a rise in exports to Russian Federation was mainly affected by the growth in exports of manufacture of foodstuffs (mainly of whisky) of EUR 7.7 million or 23.6 %. For Belarus there was a rise in exports of vehicles and associated transport equipment (mainly of vehicles for transporting 10 or more people) of EUR 0.7 million.

In January-August 2023, 367 Latvian enterprises exported goods to the Russian Federation, and 189 to Belarus. In the same period 288 enterprises imported goods from the Russian Federation and 217 from Belarus.

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In addition, the data continued to show a huge surge in trade links with central Asian countries, which in part may be a result of attempts to circumvent international sanctions on sending goods direct to Russia and Belarus. In January-August 2023, compared to the same period of 2022, exports to Kazakhstan increased by EUR 33 million or 65.9 %, to Kyrgyzstan – by EUR 31.3 million or 4.5 times, to Uzbekistan – by EUR 13.1 million or 29.5 %.

In January- August 2023, compared to the eight months of 2022, imports from Uzbekistan has grown by EUR 18.4 million or 4 times, and from Kazakhstan by EUR 15.9 million or 38.2 %.

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