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    RUSSIA WAS FORTH LARGEST INVESTOR IN LATVIA'S ECONOMY IN 2003

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    MOSCOW, JANUARY 30 (RIA Novosti corr. Polina Kalabukhova) - Russia was the forth largest investor in the Latvian economy last year. Russian companies put in a total 90,700,000 lats (about 170 million dollars, on current rates), or 7.7 percent of the total amount of direct investment.

    Speaking Friday at an international conference on the integration of Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia into the greater Europe, Nil Ushakov, on the Baltic Forum Board of Directors, said that in terms of investment in Latvia, Russia came fourth after Sweden, the United States, and Denmark.

    Last year saw Russia's investment in Latvia grow by 103 percent and the accrued investment increase 16.39 percent, Ushakov said. The most heavily invested sectors included transportation, the gas industry, and finances.

    Russia has the largest number of joint ventures with Latvia (1,620 such ventures have been registered since the republic gained independence in 1991). The United States has 1,544 JVs with Latvia; Estonia, 967; Germany, 899; Lithuania, 777; and Sweden, 533.

    According to statistics cited by Ushakov, the largest single Russian investor in the Latvian economy is the petroleum corporation Transnefteprodukt, which put in as much as 36,550,000 lats (an equivalent of $69 million). It holds a 34% stake in the oil transit company LatRosTrans. The Gazprom gas giant comes second, with 7,285,000 lats (about $14 million) in investment and a 25% stake in Latvijas Gaze Inc. The Bank of Moscow is third; it spent 4,886,000 lats ($9,200,000) to purchase 99.7 percent of the stock of Latvia's Business Bank.

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