VILNIUS – China has never been an important economic partner for Lithuania and the country's losses due to its restricted access to the Chinese market are small compared to what it has gained from the opening up of new Asian markets, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said on Thursday.
"China has never been a significant economic partner of ours," Skaiste told the Ziniu Radijas radio station, commenting on the EU's latest request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to set up a panel over China's trade restrictions on Lithuania.
"China accounted for just 1 percent of Lithuania's total exports even before all the escalations", and now it accounts for around 0.2 percent, she said.
Lithuania's losses in China have been offset by its increased exports to other South-East Asian countries, according to the minister.
"I think that the overall counterbalance of this market is certainly greater than any possible losses," she said.
In Skaiste's words, it is particularly important that Lithuania is not alone in this trade dispute with China.
The EU said on Wednesday that it had requested the establishment of WTO panels for two of its ongoing trade disputes with China.
"One concerns the legality of the trade restrictions that China has had in place against Lithuanian exports and EU exports containing Lithuanian content since December 2021", the European Commission said in a press release.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Wednesday welcomed the step as another message to Beijing that the EU will defend its member states "against China’s politically motivated economic coercion".
The EU's executive body says that Lithuania's exports to China fell by 80 percent in January-October 2022 compared to the same period last year.