Summed up

  • 2001-02-15
CZECHS WIN IN LITHUANIA: The Lithuanian Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Czech beer producer Budejovicky Budvar in its dispute with U.S. brewer Anheuser Busch over the right to use the trademark Budweiser on its products. The courtÕs ruling that Budejovicky Budvar is the exclusive importer of Budweiser beer in Lithuania stopped efforts by the American company to oust the Czech brewerÕs production from the Lithuanian market, according to a statement issued Feb. 7. Both Anheuser Busch and Budejovicky Budvar produce beer labeled Budweiser and are battling over the legal right to the commercial use of this name, one of the most popular trademarks in the world, in many countries.

OFFICIAL DISMISSED OVER ENERGY STEALING: Riga Regional Development Agency's founders dismissed the agencyÕs director general, Dans Bertulis, on Feb. 7 and decided to hold a tender to fill the post. Bertulis was caught stealing electric power from the Latvian electricity utility Latvenergo last year and was appointed the agencyÕs head without any tender. Bertulis said that the fuss about the incident concerning an illegal electric power cable leading to his house had been a political game from the very start. Soon after BertulisÕ appointment as the agencyÕs director general it turned out that last fall he had been caught red-handed stealing electric power by using an unmetered electric power cable that ran to his private cottage in Adazi near the Latvian capital Riga. He was fined nearly 2,000 lats ($3,200).

WORLD BANK LEAVES ESTONIA: The World Bank will close its representation in Tallinn by July 1, its first office in eastern Europe to be scrapped under the bankÕs efforts to focus more on developing countries in Africa and Asia. Contacts between Estonia and the World Bank will be maintained through the office in Warsaw in the future. Most of the World Bank projects in Estonia will have expired by the middle of this year. The only outstanding project will be a loan for reconstruction of the Tallinn-Tartu-Luhamaa motorway. Unlike the office in Estonia, the World Bank offices in Latvia and Lithuania will continue operations. Estonia joined the World Bank in June 1992. The bank has provided seven loans to Estonia totaling $113 million.

MARIOTT OR HILTON? The Estonian real estate company Ober-Haus is holding talks with Marriott and Hilton on the possible establishment of a hotel in the Estonian capital. Speaking to reporters about facilities planned for the mostly undeveloped port area, Ober-Haus Group Board Chairman Paul Oberschneider also named the Latvian fast food chain Lido, movie house operator Silver Screen and the U.S. recreation and entertainment services company Atomic. Ober-Haus is planning to build a recreation and entertainment center on the plots by the Admirality basin offered for sale by the city. The municipal government is expected to announce the outcome of bidding for the plots later this week.

COFFEE DRINKING FRENZIED IN ESTONIA: The coffee market in Estonia grew 17 percent in 2000 over the year before, an inventory survey by the Profindex company shows. Ground coffee made up 5,000 tons or 93 percent of the total consumed in Estonia. Sales of ground coffee per resident stood at 3.6 kilograms last year. Instant coffee, coffee beans and special sorts of coffee contributed another 0.4 kilos per resident. The average Finn consumes 10 kilos of coffee annually. In Latvia, the respective figure is 2.3 kilos and in Lithuania 2.5 kilos, the survey said. Sales of coffee in Estonian stores increased 30 percent last year, reflecting the diminishing role of markets. Five coffee producers had a market share of over five percent in Estonia last year, with Paulig leading with 27 percent and Kraft Foods No. 2 with 17 percent.

YACHTING ON RISE: BNA Grupe, the only company selling yachts and cutters in Lithuania, intends to make 4 million litas ($1 million) in turnover this year, the companyÕs consultant said. The Vilnius-based company plans to offer vessels produced by the German company Bavaria Yachtbau GmbH to Lithuanian and Estonian buyers, according to an agency agreement signed last fall. ÒWe hope to sell a yacht and 3-5 cutters this year,Ó said Arturas Baublys, a consultant to BNA Grupe. The consultant said that currently there were only yacht catalogues available in Lithuania, however, the company was able to create possibilities to visit the exhibition of offered vessels and provide the necessary information. Baublys said that a customer could receive a yacht in half a year after he ordered it and paid a deposit.

CIGARS UP, CIGARETTES DOWN: Cigarette production and import in Lithuania declined last year. However, the consumption of cigars and cigarillos rose by one-third, and smoking tobacco grew by nearly 50 percent, said Ceslovas Balsys, head of the State Tobacco and Alcohol Control Service. Balsys said that some 6.03 billion individual cigarettes were sold in 2000, down by 9.5 percent compared with 1999 when 6.67 billion cigarettes were sold. A total of 1.42 billion individual cigars and cigarillos were sold last year in Lithuania, a 23.6 percent increase compared with 1999. The Lithuanian government intends to draft amendments to the Law on Tobacco Control, providing for the ban on tobacco advertising to be postponed until Jan. 1, 2004, during the first quarter of this year.

NO MORE FOREIGNERS: The Lithuanian government last week set the 2001 employment quota for foreign nationals at 1,300, which is unchanged from the previous year. Last year 701 job permits were issued to foreign nationals in Lithuania, including 89 for engineers, 80 for cooks, and 65 for teachers. The largest number of permits to work in Lithuania was issued to Ukrainian nationals (128), Chinese nationals (72), U.S. nationals (55), and Russian nationals (49). European Union workers make up 31 percent of all foreigners working in Lithuania. The Social Security and Labor Ministry has worked out legal amendments lifting all employment restrictions for EU nationals and their families. The draft amendments are to be submitted to the government in March.