VILNIUS - Investment experts speaking at an investment conference in Vilnius have said the most important factor for attracting and retaining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the communication abilities of people, not their skills or location.
The "street smarts" of employees, at which Lithuanians excel, is underrated business leaders say.
Talking about challenges of FDI in a multi-polar world, Rudi Bric, founder of Hermes Softlab and Senior Vice President for Business development of ComTrade said "whom you know," is of utmost importance.
Per Andreas Vogts, director of international business development at Lindorff and Managing Director of Lindorff support services in Vilnius said Lithuanians are cheaper and harder working than their counterparts in Norway.
This is a major advantage to the country, which doesn't have any other specific competitive advantages anymore compared to regional rivals, he said.
"We went for personalities that we knew could build a culture. We didn't go for competence," he said about the staff he chooses to complete the company's eight-month training program.
Though the staff - which he said were some of the most highly educated people he had ever worked with - are the main reason for Lindorff's investment into the country, he also cited the cost advantage.
"Lithuanians have a positivity to Nordic people and had skilled people 's their salaries are 20-25 percent of Norwegian level, the rent here is 70-100 percent of Norwegian levels
ICT (information and communication technology) costs 60-90 percent. These are 80 percent of the costs of the business."
Despite saying that Lithuania had no specific advantages as an investment location over its regional competitors, he said the country ticked all the boxes for Norwegian development.
"A close proximity to Nordic sites - geographic, cultural, time zone, a competitive advantage to last at least 8 years, a good base for Nordic languages, a future local market for products, the availability of highly qualifies personnel and the acceptability to the Financial Supervision Authority of Norway make it an appropriate country," he said.
Vogts also said that he has encountered less red tape in Lithuania that he had previously anticipated.
Lithuania has lost some of its original competitive advantage with rising wages, but this shouldn't be a problem because of the country's developed skills set, Regimantas Liepa, Managing Director West and Central Europe of Transcom said.
President Valdas Adamkus opened the forum on June 9 and invited the world to look into Lithuania as a potential investment site.
In his welcome address, the President underlined that Lithuania was one of the most open and flexible economies and markets in Eastern and Central Europe, which has been confirmed by international institutions and organizations.
The discussions took place at the World Forum for Direct Investment 2009, held in Vilnius during June 10-11.