Latvia’s export has roots in several strong verticals, which have put the country on the map of international trade. The country takes great pride in its wood export, chemistry and pharmacy industry achievements, competitive electrical engineering products, and other crucial bases of the country’s export turnover.
The pillars of Latvian export
Covered by dense forests that make up more than 50% of the country’s territory – almost twice the world’s average – the forestry industry is one of the cornerstones of the Latvian economy and the leading export sector. About 73% of the local forestry-sector output is exported.
In Latvia, wood is often called the country’s green gold.
Latvian forests are in excellent condition, giving the country a substantial advantage over other wood exporters. Approximately 46% of forests are owned by the state and managed by state stock company Latvijas Valsts Meži, which, alongside private forest owners, puts forest regeneration at the top of their priority list.
Latvia is one of the global leaders in exporting wood products such as sawn wood and timber, fuelwood, particleboard, carpentry products, and more. The value of forestry industry export in Latvia is continuously growing. In 2021, exports of forest industry products amounted to 3.6B EUR – 22% of the country’s total export.
Latvia is among the ten largest exporters of softwood-sawn timber, birch plywood, OSB, and pellets.
Top 3 importers of Latvian woodwork products:
- United Kingdom
Latvijas Finieris is the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of performance-oriented birch plywood-based product solutions. Founded in 1992, the company has production sites in Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Lithuania and 12 product development and sales offices worldwide. Latvijas Finieris was named the 2022 Latvian Export Leader of knowledge-intensive bioeconomy in the wood processing sector. The company exports its products to nearly 70 countries worldwide.
The chemistry, pharmacy, and biotechnology industry in Latvia has always been a source of innovations and high-added-value products and services, thanks to Latvia’s long-standing tradition in the chemistry sector.
According to industry data, about 83% of the products manufactured in Latvia are exported. Leading exporters include businesses such as pharmaceutical companies Olainfarm and Grindeks, one of the leading European glass fiber manufacturers Valmieras Stikla Šķiedra, the renowned organic skincare and cosmetics brand MADARA Cosmetics, and more.
Grindeks is the leading pharmaceutical manufacturer in the Baltics, exporting products to more than 90 countries. The company’s best-known products include the anti-ischemic drug meldonium and tegafur, which is used in cancer treatment.
Besides being one of Latvia’s export pillars, the chemistry, pharmacy, and biotechnology industry also brings a high added value through crucial research work:
- The Latvian Biomedicine Research and Study Center is developing a prototype vaccine against Lyme disease.
- The Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis is an inventor and co-inventor of 18 original approved drugs and more than 70 original preparation methods of known medicines.
- Biosan is one of the global leaders in preparing and analyzing life science samples.
Latvia holds the largest share of employment in pharmaceuticals in the Baltics.
Top 3 importers of Latvian chemical products:
MADARA Cosmetics is a Latvian natural and organic cosmetics manufacturer whose products are certified according to the international ECOCERT & Cosmos and cosmetics GMP standards. Founded in 2006, MADARA Cosmetics is a true success story of exporting natural Latvian products in a nature-friendly and sustainable way
The company has won the European Role Model Award organized by the European Parliament and received the Intellectual Property Enterprise Trophy 2020 by the World Intellectual Property Organization. MADARA skincare and makeup products are exported to more than 35 countries. The company made a successful IPO in 2017 at Nasdaq Baltic.
Since 2005, the electronics and electrical engineering sector’s output has tripled, and the proportion of exports in relation to industry output is continuously increasing, indicating Latvia’s competitiveness within the global scene of the industry. Some of the industry export leaders are:
- MikroTik – a network hardware and software equipment manufacturer
- SAF Tehnika – a designer, producer, and distributor of digital Microwave Data transmission equipment
- RER – the largest manufacturer of traction drives and solutions for electric transport in the Baltics
The production of electrical and optical equipment has been the fastest-growing manufacturing industry in Latvia since 2010, and the share of its total manufacturing output has increased from 3.7% in 2009 to 8.5% in 2021.
Latvian companies specialize in manufacturing niche products with a high added value. Having a vast talent pool of industry researchers, local companies do their best to take advantage of the most valuable resource of the industry – intellectual capital.
The exported industry goods include radio, television, telecommunication, and data transmission equipment, electronic components, heavy-current electrical technology, instruments and automation equipment, and computer equipment.
Top 3 importers of Latvian electronic products:
MikroTik (Mikrotīkls) is one of the highest-earning companies in Latvia, exporting hardware and software for Internet connectivity to most countries around the world and with its largest export market being the U.S. The company’s assortment currently has more than 250 different products distributed and resold by 800+ merchandisers globally. The range of MikroTik clients includes CERN, Vodafone, Ericsson, NASA, Mitsubishi Motors, Motorola, Siemens, and other companies and organizations.
The food and beverage industry is the second largest industrial sector in Latvia. The European market makes up the most significant part of Latvia’s food and beverage industry export, consuming products such as cheese, butter, milk, canned fish, fruit and berry preparations, pickles, various grains, meat products, confectionery, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The most-exported product groups are:
- Cereals, baked goods
- Beverages, spirits
- Dairy products
Latvia is the world’s fifth-largest cranberry producer per capita.
Latvia has one of Europe’s highest shares of organic farming land, including the second-highest share of organic livestock and the fourth-highest percentage of organic vegetable production. It holds second place among EU countries in rye and wheat production per capita.
Some of the leading industry exporters in Latvia include grain processing company Dobeles Dzirnavnieks, the leading ice cream producer in the Baltics Food Union, the leading producer of alcoholic beverages in the Baltics Latvijas Balzams, and Balticovo, the largest producer of eggs and egg products in Northern Europe.
Top 3 importers of Latvian food and beverages:
Dobeles Dzirnavnieks is one of the leading grain processors in the Baltics and the largest pasta producer in Northern Europe. Besides pasta, the company produces various flour types and flour mixes, cereal flakes, and organic products. Dobeles Dzirnavnieks exports its products to over 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America and has nearly doubled its export turnover over the last few years.
Some of the best-known Latvian exporting brands
Exporting Latvian knowledge and talent
Besides exporting physical goods such as wood, electronics, medicine, or food, Latvia is also a considerable exporter of its unquestionably most valuable resources – knowledge and talent. One of the most consistently-growing economic tendencies has been the increase in the export of business services – more than 20 times since 2000. The most significant business service export fields are:
- Advertising, market research, public opinion polling services
- Trade-related services
- Business and management consultancy
- Public relations services
Other than exporting business services, Latvia also produces highly qualified specialists who are often recruited by world-leading companies. Latvia’s most notable international talent can be found within ICT, science, medicine, and music sectors.
Did you know?
Not only Latvia produces highly-skilled talent, but the country also exports higher education – about 13% of students in Latvia are foreign. The most popular study fields for international students in Latvia include medicine, dentistry, engineering, and information technologies.
Surprising places you can find Latvian goods
Artglass, produced by the Latvian company Groglass, protects artwork in countless museums and galleries worldwide, including the Louvre, the Gemeentemuseum in Hague, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and more. Additionally, Groglass’ anti-reflective “invisible” glass covers shop windows for Hugo Boss in Madrid, Apple in Berlin, Dior in Chicago, and others.
A custom-made flying solution by Aerodium – a wind tunnel construction company – has enabled one of the most popular shows at Shanghai Disneyland since 2016. The Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular, a 30-minute show, is still considered one of the must-see spectacles at the Disneyland of Shanghai.
Latvian wooden furniture manufacturer, Daiļrade Koks, produces furniture for a U.S.-based sustainable children’s lifestyle brand, Oeuf, which is highly popular among French customers. Besides Oeuf, Daiļrade Koks makes furniture for several German retailers and other companies.
A manufacturer of industrial LED lighting products from Latvia, Vizulo, quite literally has its word on the street. The company’s lighting goods are used in many cities worldwide, including the streets of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.