VILNIUS – The outgoing year of 2018 has seen not many well-known foreign companies announce their decision to invest in Lithuania, and the year was also marked by British bank Barclays' decision to exit the Lithuanian market. Overall, however, economists and experts say the year's good, noting that there's no lack of foreign investment.
Tadas Povilauskas, chief economist at SEB, says Lithuania has attracted slightly fewer well-known names but that is mainly due to the fact that many of them came to Lithuanian last year when Continental, Hella, Hollister and several other famous brands entered Lithuania.
In his words, 2018 should be seen as a year for the implementation of previous investment and a year of continuity since many investors built their plants this year, and also increased their staff numbers and expanded the range of services.
"Quite a number of companies in Lithuania built muscle," Povilauskas told BNS Lithuania.
His view is echoed by Mantas Katinas, head of Lithuania's investment-promoting agency Invest Lithuania. He believes investors put down roots and further expanded this year.
"Services centers, like that of Danske Bank, expanded fast, and Intersurgical, which has been operating in Lithuania for several decades, is building a new production facility," Katinas told BNS Lithuania.
The continuity of foreign companies' activity in Lithuania is also reflected in the confidence index produced by the investor association Investors‘ Forum. According to its head Ruta Skyuriene, it showed that as many as 64 percent of foreign investors planned to raise wages, and 68 percent had plans on expanding their range of products and services.
Moody's Corporation's decision to open its new office in Vilnius was named by the experts surveyed by BNS Lithuania as a key event of the year. And Katinas says it's very important that leading niche companies setting high demands for their employees also entered Lithuania.
"One of the examples of that is Iceland's Videntifier producing image recognition and identification software. Also, the Netherland's Convious which is using artificial intelligence to produce digital marketing solutions. And also Norwegian fertilizer producer Yara which has opened the group's first logistics center in Vilnius," the Invest Lithuanian manager said.
Luminor's chief economist Zygimantas Mauricas underlined that investment of local businessmen were also very important for Lithuania. The country's one of the largest wood and furniture producers, Vakaru Medienos Grupe, started building a 180 million euro particle board production facility in the district of Akmene, and also plans to built a new furniture plant. The company plans to employ up to 400 new people.