PAREX BANK HELPS LITHUANIAN ENERGY COMPANY: The Lietuvos Energija company and Latvia's Parex Bank are considering further possible projects for cooperation after signing a factoring agreement on Dec. 1. Under the agreement, Parex has loaned $8 million to Lietuvos Energija in exchange for claim rights to part of the company's debts. Lietuvos Energija's spokeswoman Danguole Mikutiene said the agreement was not linked with Belarus' outstanding debts to the company. The energy company chose Parex because Lithuanian banks offered loans on unacceptable terms, she said. Parex' loan has been extended for a 16-month term at a 14 percent annual interest rate.
FISHERY LAYS OFF 220 WORKERS: Latvia's Kaija fish cannery will lay off around 220 employees with the closure of its canning facility. The company had to close it for three months because its warehouses are stocked with unsold goods which were intended for the Russian market. Kaija's board Chairwoman Taiga Treimane said the company's management will decide the cannery's fate in the next three months. Given the difficult financial situation and impact of the Russian crisis, the company's management has asked the Riga Stock Exchange to move its shares from the official list to the second list.
EU OPENS DOORS TO ESTONIAN DAIRY: The European Union standing veterinary committee has allowed Estonia's Polva Piim dairy to export to EU countries. The dairy was included on the list of third-country dairies that can send their milk products to the EU. United Dairies PR manager Ene Nobel said the EU committee confirmed the list Dec. 3. The list also includes Polish companies, but they got permission to export only one particular product, while Polva Piim could export the full range of its products. Nobel said the official decision should reach Estonia in a couple of weeks after the European Commission endorses it. The decision takes effect two days after adoption.
BUTINGE TO PUMP FIRST OIL SOON: Lithuania's strategic oil sector investor, U.S. Williams International, expects to have everything ready for oil export at Butinge terminal by January, 1999. But oil will not be pumped until the terminal gets approval from environmentalists, which is unlikely to happen until the beginning of January, said Randy Majors, director general of the Lithuanian Williams subsidiary. He said the first two pumping stations should be completed by mid-December, while the other two should be ready by mid-January next year. Tests of the pipeline system are planned to be completed this year. Williams and the Lithuanian government had always expected to start pumping oil through Butinge's terminal this year. This would bring in some extra income for the completion of the terminal.
LATVIAN DAIRY LOOKS TO KENYA: The Rezeknes Piena Konservu Kombinats dairy has gone out of its way to find new markets after the Russian one collapsed. Company President Anatolijs Tucs said they have found possible buyers in Kenya. He said one of Kenya's biggest milk processing companies, which owns 16 plants, is interested in cooperation with the Rezekne dairy. It is planning to send to Kenya the first shipment of 200,000 cans of milk after the tests are completed. The Kenyan company proposed the Rezekne dairy could supply sterilized milk while the local companies could produce fresh milk. Kenya is in shortage of unskimmed milk and fresh milk.
MORE HIGH ECONOMICS MARKS FOR ESTONIA: Estonia has improved its score in the Index of Economic Freedom published by the U.S. Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal, which includes 160 countries. Estonia was ranked 18th with an above average score of 2.15. Researchers note that Estonia is essentially a duty-free country with a very low level of protectionism and a favorable foreign investment environment. Latvia placed 61st with a score of 2.85 and Lithuania 72nd with a score of 3.0. Compared to last year, Latvia moved up one step, whereas Lithuania dropped 10 places. Russia scored 3.45, placing 106th.