After reinstating its independence Latvia has implemented major political, economic and administrative reforms, and its transition to a market economy was successfully completed in a relatively short period of time. On 14 October 1998, Latvia joined the World Trade Organisation, and on 1 May 2004 Latvia became a member of the European Union. Being aware that sustainable economic growth has been determined by global economic processes, Latvia continues and promotes mutually beneficial cooperation with the OECD, one of the major policy-makers on international stage of the world economy. OECD membership has become one of the priorities of Latvia's foreign economic policy.
Based on the OECD Enlargement Strategy, on 25 August 2004, Latvia's Cabinet of Ministers approved the basic principles of co-operation between Latvia and the OECD (CM Order No. 589 of 25.08.2004). This is the first political document to define Latvia's goal: the acquisition of OECD member status. The basic principles of co-operation between Latvia and the OECD provide a common course of action, and indicate the main tasks to be addressed at the national level.
Until a definite decision on the OECD enlargement is adopted, Latvia is deepening co-operation with its Subsidiary Bodies.
Taking into consideration the unique experience of the reform implementation process, and its rapid economic growth, Latvia considers being ready for full membership of the OECD, conforming to its criteria, and is able to contribute to the work of the organisation.
The OECD membership is included in the Declaration of the Government of Latvia approved on 7 November 2006.
Baltic Regional Programme
Responding to the Joint Declaration of the Baltic States, in 1998 the OECD announced the establishment of the Baltic Regional Programme. The OECD and the Baltic States have initially identified the following common objectives: transition to a market economy, harmonisation of national economic policy with international requirements, and acquiring the best practices and political guidelines of the OECD countries, thus fostering sustainable economic development and political stability. During the period of 1998-2004, the Baltic Regional Programme was the main instrument of co-operation between the OECD and Latvia, and provided an opportunity for Latvian experts to participate on regular basis in OECD-organised regional seminars and conferences, and to gain experience by participating in OECD researches.
In April 2005, during the last evaluation meeting held in Paris, the Baltic states emphasised their main goal: full membership of the OECD. Priority areas in future co-operation with the OECD were identified, including observership in OECD Committees.
Latvia's co-operation with OECD Subsidiary Bodies
In January 2000, Latvia submitted an official application for a membership in the Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, as well as expressed its wish to join the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
In March 2001, Latvia applied for observer status in the Competition Committee.
In April 2003, Latvia submitted an application for observership in a number of OECD Subsidiary Bodies: the Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee; the Committee on Fiscal Affairs; the Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy; the Maritime Transport Committee; the Working Party on Agricultural Policies and Markets, and the Group on Meat and Dairy Products.
On 28 May 2003, the OECD International Investment and Multinational Enterprises Committee passed a decision to invite Latvia to join the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. On 16 December 2003, Latvia's Cabinet of Ministers approved Latvia's adherence to the Declaration and related OECD Council decisions and recommendations.
Latvia has been granted observer status in the following OECD instruments:
- Maritime Transport Committee;
- Governing Board of the Institutional Management in Higher Education programme.
Latvia is a member of the following OECD Subsidiary Bodies:
- Working Party of the Investment Committee;
- Co-operative Action Programme on Local Economic and Employment Development;
- Governing Board of the Programme for International Student Assessment;
- Scheme for Cereals;
- Scheme for Grass and Legume Seed.
OECD Consultative Council
To ensure co-ordinated approach of Latvia's public administration institutions and other OECD related institutions, on 29 September 1998, an Inter-ministerial Consultative Council was formed to co-ordinate the OECD Baltic Regional Programme.
On 16 December 2003, Latvia's Cabinet of Ministers approved the Founding Law of the OECD Consultative Council (Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No. 698 of 16.12.2003), and it took over functions of the Inter-ministerial Consultative Council.
How Latvia would benefit from the OECD membership
In the context of foreign economic policy, the OECD membership (joining the "club" of 30 developed countries) would give Latvia a "seal of quality". As an OECD Member, Latvia could maintain a dialogue with other OECD Members, on an equal footing.
Discussions between OECD member countries (and non-members), peer reviews, scientific research and analysis of economic policies, and developed standards and legal instruments, promote awareness on economic priorities, possible problems, and appropriate ways to address them.
Introduction of OECD standards (OECD policy frameworks, best practices, and guidelines) in economic and social spheres important to Latvia (education, science, taxes and investment policy, development of small and medium-size enterprises, etc), would promote Latvia's economic growth.