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Abstract

Based on the analytical framework of the structure-conduct-performance paradigm of the theory of industrial organisation, the paper analyses those economic conditions that determine the degree of competitiveness in the Latvian dairy and milling industry. The analysis is based on information from milk and grain processing enterprises acquired through a survey carried out at the beginning of 1998. It is shown that the development of market conditions and market behaviour in the sectors examined has in general progressed. Privatisation in both sectors has been completed. While in the dairy sector the majority of processing enterprises were privatised as co-operatives, in the milling industry all enterprises have become closed joint-stock companies. Since the legal status of a co-operative has turned out to be quite problematic for enterprise restructuring, more and more dairy enterprises have started to change into joint-stock companies. Competition in the investigated processing sectors can be considered as functioning. However, in the dairy sector tendencies of stronger horizontal concentration can be observed. The majority of enterprises react in quite an active way to the market conditions. Procurement and marketing channels have been diversified, and considerable investments have been undertaken. Further investments, however, are impeded by high interest rates for credits. As for performance, quite a considerable differentiation between the enterprises in the considered branches could be shown. The main problems seen by the processors are the saturation of the domestic Latvian market, the lack of investment funds, the unstable legislation, the absence of any substantial support from the government, and, in the dairy sector, the low quality of the raw milk.

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