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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Alan Larson, Under Secretary of State
for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

Press statement, Riga, Latvia, April 6, 2000
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Today was the third meeting of the U.S.-Latvia Bilateral Economic Working Group, which operates under the Baltic-American Charter of Partnership signed by President Clinton and President Ulmanis in January 1998. We've discussed some very important key economic and trade issues between our two countries in preparation for the annual Partnership Commission meeting that will take place in June.

I really appreciate Minister Berzins' hospitality and the hard work his team devoted to prepare for this meeting. I congratulate him on Latvia's progress to begin accession negotiations with the European Union. I want to reiterate the U.S. Government's support for Latvia's integration into the full range of Euro-Atlantic institutions. Our goal is to increase American trade and investment in Latvia and to continue to be a very strong economic partner. We've had a good chance to talk about important economic issues like intellectual property protection, WTO issues, standards, and improvement of customs procedures.

Today we just heard joint recommendations from the Latvian and American business communities on how we can improve our dialogue and our economic relationship. This is the first time that the Latvian and American business communities have met for this purpose, and this really parallels the type of relation that we have with the European Union, called the Transatlantic Business Dialogue.

I would like to take just a moment to commend Latvia's efforts to restore normal diplomatic dialogue and economic relations with Russia. I congratulate Latvia's progress toward ensuring full social integration of all of its citizens, I urge Latvia to continue its sincere constructive efforts to promote good neighborly relations with Russia, and I hope that these efforts will be reciprocated.

My stay in Riga unavoidably has been short, but I am leaving with an indelible impression of a country that has made great strides and that is determined to complete the task of building a competitive market economy with strong and transparent regulatory structures. What I have seen here today -- the vibrant city of Riga, the dedication of the Latvian Government, the dynamism of the Latvian and American business communities -- these all convince me that this is a market where Americans need to be present.

[end of document]

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