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EU Says Latvian GDP to Grow at Bloc’s Fastest Pace in 2013, 2014

Latvia’s economy will grow at the fastest pace in the European Union this year and next, driven by exports, the 27-member bloc’s executive arm said.

Gross domestic product will rise 3.8 percent in 2013 and 4.1 percent in 2014, the European Commission said today in its spring economic forecasts. Consumer prices will advance 1.4 percent this year and 2.1 percent next, it predicted.

The Baltic country, which plans to adopt the euro in 2014, grew by more than 5 percent in each of the last two years after a slump that began in 2008 triggered a bailout and erased more than a quarter of output. The nation meets all the criteria to adopt the common currency on Jan. 1, according to Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.

“Despite the volatile external environment, the Latvian economy retained a strong growth path,” the commission wrote. “The most recent high-frequency indicators, in particular industrial and retail sales, confirm the previously expected slowdown in 2013 but nevertheless the country is still likely to remain among the fastest growing in Europe.”

Unemployment will fall to 13.7 percent this year and 12.2 percent in 2014, the commission estimates. The budget deficit will stay at 1.2 percent of GDP in 2013 and narrow to 0.9 percent next year, it predicts.

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