Latvia to participate in military industrial cluster

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In response to the call of the Finnish military industry company Patria, more than 50 Latvian companies have shown interest in participating in the future industrial cluster for the military, Latvian Radio reported July 26.

Patria intends to develop and produce 6x6 armored vehicles for Finland, Latvia and Estonia. Latvian entrepreneurs' readiness to participate shows that the defense budget money will remain in Latvia and that those involved will be able to overcome the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of this year, Latvian and Finnish defense ministers signed an agreement on the launch of a joint research and development program for a new armored vehicle system. Estonia also joined the project in April. A group of companies are currently being assembled, which will then provide raw materials for the production of armored vehicles in the future, as well as day-to-day maintenance of them.

The willingness of Latvian businesses to engage has been remarkable, representing fields such as metalworking, manufacture of electronics components and rubber products, light arms, engineering industries and others. Latvian companies would produce components, ship to Finland and the vehicles would be manufactured in Finland.

Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For) said that this project also allows for the goal that money remains in the country, strengthening Latvia's exports, business and jobs.

"Of course it gives us additional opportunities to provide supplies. Starting with repairs. Then if we get into crisis situations, God forbid, a war, supply lines will be disrupted. And the COVID-19 crisis showed that it often happens. Take masks. When there was a need for countries to purchase masks at the same time, Member States of the European Union established the preconditions that their interests came first," said Pabriks.

The Minister stressed that the door was open to all companies that would be able to cooperate with Patria and Finnish producers. This will allow the development of technologies and jobs in Latvia.

“The public needs to understand: the money that leaves for the armed forces of Latvia is not shot up into the air. It is invested here and creates an additional benefit not only for the armed forces, but for the whole society,” said Pabriks.

Latvia has requested that a third of the spending remain in Latvia in this multi-annual agreement.

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