ESTONIA MIGHT INTRODUCE PROTECTIVE TARIFFS: A group of representatives from ministries and the Bank of Estonia handed several proposals for protective tariffs to the customs duties commission, headed by the Finance Minister Mart Opmann. Ene Maadvere, head of the Agriculture Ministry's trade bureau, said one of the packages proposes a zero tariff on all goods, while another stipulates that protective tariffs should be imposed on all imported goods. The remaining proposals recommend tariffs on certain goods which would be applied for certain periods of time. "It's impossible to tell at present which package the government will finally send to the Parliament," Maadvere said. Estonia cannot introduce protective tariffs against the European Union countries and the countries with which it has free-trade agreements.
GREEN CARDS ON SALE IN LATVIA: Latvia will start selling green cards on Dec. 1. Dzintra Isajeva, expert at the Latvian Traffic Office, said Latvia received permission from the Council of Green Cards in London Nov. 11. Latvia joined the international transport insurance or green card convention July 1. Green card holders will be able to use them in those countries with which Latvia has concluded bilateral agreements. Latvia still has to sign agreements with Morocco and Yugoslavia, but Latvian citizens can already use green cards in 40 other European, Asian and African countries who have joined the convention.
RUSSIA MIGHT LOSE STAKE IN EESTI GAAS: The Russian gas concern Gazprom might have to say good-bye to its stake in the Estonian gas utility Eesti Gaas. After Gazprom failed to pay for its shares, they may be taken by another major shareholder, German concern Ruhrgas. Eesti Gaas Board Chairman Aarne Saar announced Nov. 13 that Gazprom had not covered its shares. "It cannot be ruled out that Ruhrgas will become the new owner of the shares," he said. Saar mentioned that the Russian gas company is reluctant to give up its 12 percent holding in Eesti Gaas, while Ruhrgas, which owns one-fifth of Eesti Gaas, has constantly sought to increase its stake.
LITHUANIA HAS LARGE POTENTIAL: The influential European business magazine, "Business Central Europe," has evaluated Lithuania's economy development positively. "The Lithuanian market at some $16 billion is as big as the other two Baltics combined," the November edition of the magazine reads. Authors of the publication note that Lithuania is not "beholden to any one country in the way Estonia is to Finland and Latvia increasingly to Germany, which enables it to withstand shocks like the Russian crisis much more robustly." The magazine praises the Lithuanian privatization process. "The sale of the state telephone company, Lithuanian Telecom, should go into the textbooks as a deal that pleased buyers, sellers and consumers in equal measure." Analysts note, however, that "the remainder of banking sector privatization looks likely to be a little more tricky, since the country's banking sector has never been truly healthy, and few foreign banks are looking for acquisition in the former Soviet Union at the moment."
NESTE TO LAUNCH RESIN PRODUCTION IN LATVIA: Neste Resins company, a part of the Neste Chemicals concern, will start producing formaldehyde-based resin in cooperation with the wood processing company Latvijas Finieris in 1999. The decision to open operations in Latvia is in line with Neste' strategy aimed at becoming the leading formaldehyde-based resin supplier in the Baltic sea countries. Presently the company has a resin production facility in Hamina, Finland. The company is planning to raise its production capacity to 30,000 tons of resin a year and to improve production quality. The location of the Hamina facility allows the company to expand its business further to the Baltic states.