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Latvia indifferent about joining eurozone

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Latvia indifferent about joining eurozone
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On January 1, Latvia will become the 18th member of the eurozone, the second former Soviet state to do so, after Estonia.

There aren’t many signs in the Latvian capital, Riga, showing the country is about to lose its national currency, the lat, and make a significant switch to the euro.

Nobody seems very excited. At best, locals are indifferent.

The indifference is being demonstrated also by the small interest in euro starter kits that appeared on sale shortly before Christmas. Compared to Estonia, where people were standing in long queues to buy starter kits some years ago, Latvians are much less enthusiastic about it.

In November, there were more people who favoured rather than disapproved of euro adoption in Latvia for the first time, as showed by the latest Eurobarometer survey.

Support for the euro rose to 53 percent in Latvia, close to the average in the EU, compared with 76 percent in neighbouring Estonia which joined the eurozone in 2011.

Latvia’s switch to the euro comes just five years after an international rescue package prevented the lat becoming devalued in 2008 after the collapse of Parex Banka, its second-biggest bank.

In 2012, after years of austerity measures, Latvia had the fastest growth rate in the EU.