Lithuanian PM, US undersecretary discuss trade cooperation, China's pressure

  • 2022-02-01
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte met with US Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez on Monday to discuss China's economic pressure on Vilnius, and the strengthening of trade cooperation between Lithuania and the United States, the government has said. 

"The growing trade and economic relations between Lithuania and the United States open up vast opportunities for both countries and businesses," Simonyte said in a press release.

"As Western democracies face increasing challenges from authoritarian regimes, including illegitimate means of economic pressure, it is important for our countries to exchange information and expand and deepen our bilateral economic cooperation," she said. 

"Special priority must be given to countries who have a similar legal framework, who protect property rights and value freedom of speech." 

The officials also discussed possibilities for promoting US investment and business relations, and cooperation with the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).

Relations between Lithuania and China turned sour after Vilnius allowed Taiwan to call its representative office "Taiwanese" rather than "Taipei's". 

Last November, China officially downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania to the level of chargé d’affaires.

As the diplomatic row escalated, Lithuanian businesses said they were facing various trade restrictions from China, which Vilnius officials described as "undeclared sanctions".  

The European Commission said last week it had launched a case at the World Trade Organization against China over its discriminatory trade practices against Lithuania.

On Monday, Simonyte and Fernandez also discussed the security situation in Europe.

Simonyte "noted that the destabilizing actions of Russia and the build-up of the Russian troops in Belarus and on the borders of Ukraine call for ever closer mobilization and unity on the part of the allies", according to the press release. 

The Kremlin has amassed over 100,000 troops and military equipment on Ukraine's borders, making the West increasingly concerned about a major military conflict in Europe.