Swedish-Lithuanian investment highlighted

  • 2007-10-03
  • By Kimberly Kweder

BRIGE ACROSS THE BALTIC: Adamkus (left) is keen on an energy link with Sweden

VILNIUS --  The Swedish Trade Council and the Swedish Embassy in Lithuania awarded three companies first-placed positions for leading Lithuania's international business development at the second annual Swedish
Business Awards (SBA) in Vilnius, Oct. 3.

Swedish Ambassador to Lithuania Malin Karre and Swedish Trade Council CEO Mantas Zalatorius presented the selected winners chosen from three different categories. The fastest growing Swedish company in Lithuania went to Swecon UAB; corporate social responsibility, SEB Vilnius Bankas; and Gambro Healthcare was named an innovator of the year.

President Adamkus made an opening speech to the over 200 Lithuanian and Swedish business leaders from 150 companies attending the event.

Adamkus said the two countries already interact in close business relations that they could consolidate a partnership in the electricity sector, according to the president's press service.

"In doing so, not only would we strengthen the Baltic-Nordic economic ties, but we would also make our energy markets more competitive," said Adamkus, noting that an electricity bridge would connect the Lithuanian and Scandinavian electricity systems.

In his closing remarks, he also pointed to his concern of Lithuania's high inflation rate and called upon the Lithuanian government to speed up economic reforms in the months ahead.

Sweden was the third largest investor in the Lithuanian economy with an estimated 3 billion litas throughout last year.  There are over a hundred Swedish companies operating in Lithuania, and more than 400 Lithuanian
companies export their products and services to Sweden.

Swedish Trade Council project manager Vidas Korsakas told The Baltic Times that investment in Lithuania will continue to grow.

"The Swedes see all the Baltic states as a home market. It's a quite strategic market and it's a good market for learning and teaching [business skills] abroad. Secondly, the cultural differences are not so large between the two countries, and third, it is a good place for market expansion to the East, such as the Russia and Ukraine," said Korsakas.

Swedish Trade Council Executive Officer Mantas Zalatorius, founder of the SBA, told The Baltic Times the ceremony was by invitation-only.

"We carefully selected who to invite and who not to invite," said Zalatorius.

The event also focused on cross-cultural aspects of international business and building teamwork skills.

Dutch author Fons Trompenaars shared a lesson on the art of communicating effectively, interplayed  with humorous anecdotes from his own experiences abroad, and explained how to reconcile cultural differences through the process of solving dilemmas in six steps.

Trompenaars told The Baltic Times despite the close geographical location between Sweden and Lithuania, there still is much to learn from each other in business terms.

"Proximity is not a guarantee. I don't think there is a relation to proximity and for businesses to do well. It also has risks [the language barrier, communication and cultural differences]," Trompenaars said.

"Lithuania is like an experiment. You need to experiment and learn from mistakes and have quick feedback," he added.

After the awards presentation, large and smaller companies mingled together for a dinner reception.

One Lithuanian businessman from a large-sized company, who declined to say his name, said he doubted Trompenaars' ideas would work in Lithuania.

"What companies in Lithuania think and manage like that? The problem is in the diamond business model here. We should ask, what do workers think?" he said.

A diamond business structure isn't a hierarchy. No one power dictates to the whole company.

The businessman also said the awards presentation didn't give representation of smaller companies' efforts in Lithuania.

"It was a conventional approach. Everybody knows the big names [that were announced]," he said. "Can the Swedish Trade Council find some unique Lithuanian business operating in a unique way? They should present companies like that next year."