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Latvia ready to join euro zone

English.news.cn   2013-12-28 14:24:05            

RIGA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Latvia is ready to become the 18th member of the euro zone on Jan. 1, 2014.

Posters on Latvia's entry to the currency bloc are hung along main streets of Riga, capital of Latvia, to mark the event.

Since July 2013, the Latvian authorities have carried out a large-scale publicity campaign to inform people of the advantages of its entry to the euro zone to ease people's concerns over possible rises in commodity prices and unemployment rate after joining the bloc.

According to government regulations, shops in Latvia are now showing product prices in two currencies: lat and euro. The euro will officially be brought into Latvia's formal circulation in 2014, but some private shops are already accepting euro payments now.

Latvians are now busy converting lat into the euro. Riga's shopping centers have also witnessed an increasing number of customers who want to spend their lats in hands before the New Year.

Latvia's central bank said there is no need to be panic, as people can still convert their lats into the euro at the central bank without paying any fees after the official circulation of the euro.

Latvian Finance Minister Andris Vilks said during a recent TV interview that the transition to the euro would not cause any serious problems, as the experience of its neighboring country Estonia has shown.

Andris Ruselis, deputy governor of the Bank of Latvia, said on Friday that euro cash has already arrived in Latvia and the central bank has rich reserves of euro notes with various value. Euro coins have already been delivered to Latvia during Christmas time.

As the New Year fast approaches, the number of people who support Latvia's entry to the euro zone keeps growing.

In May 2012, opinion polls showed that only 27 percent of Latvians supported the country's eurozone entry, and the number even fell to 13 percent in September in the same year.

However, the latest "DnB Latvia barometer" survey showed a majority support for Latvia's eurozone membership.

Latvia is among the fastest-growing economies in the European Union (EU). Its economy expanded by 5 percent in 2011 and 2012, the top growth figure in the EU.

Latvia's finance ministry has predicted around 4.2 percent growth for this year and next.

In early July, Latvia received the green light from its European partners to join the euro zone.

Editor: chengyang
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