RUSSIAN CRISIS HITS LITHUANIAN FUR INDUSTRY: The Lithuanian fur industry, which sells about 80 percent of its output in Russia, is close to collapse. The fur company Vilniaus Kailiai has entirely stopped processing furs and sewing garments and has laid off almost all of its staff. This year the company produced 10 million litas ($2.5 million) worth of products but only sold products for 1.6 million litas. "The company's situation is hopeless," said Aldona Kiselyte, chief of the company's economic department in her interview to the newspaper Verslo Zinios.. Gloomy predictions have also been made by directors of the Ziemys fur company, which still employs its entire staff. Ziemys has been saved by orders from the border guards, internal police and army, but the company's warehouses have accumulated more than 2 million litas worth of goods. The Vilkas fur company's warehouses store 8 million litas worth of goods. The factory owes its staff about 1.1 million litas and is paying salaries in furs. Vilkas predicts annual losses of 5 million - 6 million litas. Vilniaus Kailiai predicts "gigantic" losses, and only Ziemys still hopes to avoid losses
ESTONIANS AND FINNS TEAM UP TO PRODUCE DOORS: Harju Elekter's council endorsed an agreement with the Finnish firm Oy Saajos International on founding a joint venture, Saajos Balti, for the production and sale of fireproof and safety doors. The future firm will have a stock capital of 5 million kroons ($387,000). Harju Elekter will invest 55 percent of the stock capital, the rest will be covered by Saajos International. The joint venture will be set up on the basis of Harju Elekter's existing fireproof door production facility by an injection of external capital contributed by the Finnish firm. Harju Elekter CEO Endel Palla said the additional investment and know-how will improve the firm's technological level and allow it to boost production and enter the North European shipbuilding market. The owners are planning a turnover of 25 million kroons for the new venture in 1999.
RUSSIA URGES LATVIA TO SPEED UP TRANSIT: Russian Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Yevgeniy Morozov asked Latvia to speed up oil exports through Ventspils port. Morozov sent a telegram to Latvian Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans. Russia has increased its export volumes because of the present economic crisis. "Although the port of Ventspils is working at full tilt Russia is exporting oil in impractical quantities," said Gita Jelisejeva, Transport Ministry's spokeswoman. Fifty-seven sets of rolling stock are waiting in Ventspils to be reloaded. It would take about nine days to reload them, Jelisejeva noted. "The export of services, as an important and strong component of the Latvian economy, has justified itself, [É] I am much more concerned with the export of goods, but this problem can be solved as well," Kristopans said.
BUY LITHUANIAN GOODS!: The Lithuanian Conservative government began implementing a program under the slogan "Buy Lithuanian goods!" The government ordered all local authorities and other budgetary organizations to purchase all goods, except food, directly from Lithuanian manufacturers or their authorized dealers. Such organizations and firms will also have to have repair and other services performed only by firms which use goods manufactured in Lithuania. The administration decided to take these measures in order to support the country's citizens and lessen the impact of the Russian crisis on them. Another aim is to decrease the current accounts deficit. Economics Minister Vincas Babilius admitted that this decision will provoke great dissatisfaction among importers. He believes, however, that this will encourage investments and force the creation of new jobs in Lithuania.