Bank of Latvia, IMF Announce Joint Conference on the Recovery in the Baltics

Press Release No. 12/161
May 8, 2012

The Bank of Latvia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced today that they will co-host a high-level conference in Riga on June 5, 2012.

Against the Odds: Lessons from the Recovery in the Baltics will bring together national and international policymakers and academics to review the policies that helped Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania emerge from a deep recession, restore balanced growth, and make progress towards or achieve their goal of euro adoption. They will also discuss the remaining challenges and lessons to be learned.

Prominent speakers will include Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis and Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, and the European Central Bank Executive Board Member Jörg Asmussen. Latvian President Andris Bērziņš and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde will open the conference. Ms. Lagarde will also participate in the final panel discussion.

“Latvia has demonstrated that bringing the fiscal house in order, especially if well supplemented with structural reforms, is key to bringing an economy back to growth if you do it resolutely and early in the crisis, focusing on expenditure cuts rather than tax increases,” Mr. Rimšēvičs said. “Latvia made it happen through speed, ownership, commitment, and solidarity. The Latvian experience is definitely worth analyzing in an international context and, with an outstanding group of policymakers and economists in attendance, this conference offers a good chance of doing just that,” he added.

“I am looking forward to my first visit to Riga and to this important conference,” said Ms. Lagarde. “Learning more about these countries’ achievements and experiences will benefit us all, and I look forward to a frank discussion that will help clarify the key challenges ahead and offer some practical and concrete advice.”

The conference is open by invitation and to accredited media. Journalists are encouraged to register by June 4; a dedicated registration page for media will be available shortly on the conference website www.imf.org/latviaconference. The sessions will also be webcast on the same conference website.

For any further information please contact konference@bank.lv

Media contacts:

Bank of Latvia

Martins Gravitis pressoffice@bank.lv ; +371 6702 2349

For more on the Bank of Latvia: www.bank.lv

IMF

In Washington: Simonetta Nardin, media@imf.org  + 1 202 623 7100

In Riga: David Moore, Resident Representative, rr-lva@imf.org ; +371 6771 5999

For more on Latvia and the IMF: http://www.imf.org/external/country/LVA/index.htm


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Against the Odds: Lessons from the Recovery in the Baltics

Conference Announcement

Location: Riga, Latvia

  • The Great Guild

Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Background

In late 2008, Latvia approached the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for financial support to help overcome the effects of the global financial crisis, the unwinding of an unsustainable credit boom, and acute banking pressures. Only a few years later, despite a deep downturn, Latvia has achieved key objectives of its now-completed EU-IMF program. Latvia’s Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania, were hit nearly as hard by the global crisis; they too responded with strong adjustment measures. In 2011, the three Baltic countries were the fastest growing economies in the EU.

Conference

The day-long conference will bring together prominent policymakers, academics, and civil society representatives to discuss the policies that helped Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia overcome the crisis, restore economic growth, and make progress toward—and in Estonia’s case achieve—the goal of euro adoption. The conference will also provide an opportunity to discuss remaining challenges for the region, and to draw potential lessons for other European countries.

The conference will address topics including what political, economic, or social factors made the adjustment in the Baltic countries feasible; how to prevent a reemergence of vulnerabilities in these countries; the role of the Fund and the EC in supporting the adjustment effort in Latvia and the Baltics; whether the adjustment in Latvia and the Baltics can be seen as a model for countries in the euro zone; and what lessons the euro area crisis holds for countries like Latvia and Lithuania that want to adopt the euro.

Speakers and format

The conference will be opened by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the President of the Republic of Latvia, Andris Bērziņš. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Minister of Finance Andris Vilks, and Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs will also participate. Other speakers will include policymakers from Estonia, Lithuania, and Sweden, representatives of European and international institutions, the International Trade Union Confederation, and academia.

The conference will be divided into three sessions:

Session I: Crisis Management and Recovery in Latvia and the Baltics

Session II: The Remaining Challenges

Session III High-Level Panel—Lessons for European Policymakers

The first two sessions will start off with five 10-minute presentations, followed by questions and a wrap-up by the session moderator. The final session will be a round-table discussion, drawing on the discussion in the earlier sessions.

The conference will be streamed online at www.imf.org/latviaconference



IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Public Affairs    Media Relations
E-mail: publicaffairs@imf.org E-mail: media@imf.org
Fax: 202-623-6220 Phone: 202-623-7100