The Baltic Course

   First issue: Spring 2000 № 1 (№1)



Projects Show

While awaiting the 9th Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, General Secretary Antonio Maria Costa announced that the City of Riga will be a mini Davos in May 2000. Perhaps that kind of flattery can be said about any corresponding eastern European city, but the Baltic States have vigorously prepared for the EBRD meeting. Latvian and Lithuanian state institutions and private enterprises have prepared 82 projects in need of investments to be shown to potential sponsors.


The Baltic Course N1

Just before the Whistle

Ten years of reforming the economy of the three Baltic States allows for a summing up of the process of privatization which has incrementally approached its conclusion. The "Baltic Course" has addressed three General Directors of national privatization agencies. These are men that championed and protected the principle of the need to privatize in the face of often unsupportive attitudes from the general public and the political elite. Janis Naglis, General Director of the Latvian Privatization Agency, and Stasis Vaitkiavicus, Head of the State Property Fund of Lithuania are still at their posts. Vaino Sarnet, former Head of the Estonian Privatization Agency has left.

Acronyms of Baltic Capitalism

Obscure abbreviations EVP, PS, IC are symbols of a special formula for creating a broad range of owners on empty ground. "EVP" - "erastamisvaartpaber" (securities for privatization); "PS" - "privacizacijas sertifikats" (certificate for privatization), and "IC" - "investicinis cekas" (investments cheque). "Voucher" covers the meanings of all the above-mentioned acronyms.


When a Crisis Becomes a Stimulus

One of the consequences of the Russian crisis in all three Baltic States was the shrinking of foreign trade. The sharp cuts in exports to Russia have forced companies to penetrate the EU market more intensively. The rise in trade turnover with the EU has not managed to compensate the losses in the East but has lead to a change of the main trade partners.

Fair Game

In the three coming years the power sector may become the leader in forging economic unity of the three Baltic States. Responding to the call of western politics and inspired by the experience of Northern Europe, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia intend to work out a model of for a common power market and to prepare it for competition. Already now some consumers are able to choose between power suppliers in Latvia and Estonia. The BC has decided to find out why that possibility was used only by one enterprise and what is unveiled by the market.

Super "Cleaner" Comes to Lithuania

At the end of March, a presentation was given to the Vilnius Environmental Protection Committee of the Lithuanian parliament highlighting a unique substance which can purify various forms of pollution. During the presentation the first results of the use of this substance in Lithuania were reported by an academic from St. Petersburg Viktor Petrik.


Black Gold Routes

During the past decade, approximately 600 million USD have been invested in the development of the largest Baltic oil terminals. Thanks to these investments, inland oil repositories built in the Soviet times have been replaced by modern oil export terminals. Currently approximately 15 terminals in Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian ports serve as a transit route for oil and oil products from Russia and the CIS.


Two Fingers of One Hand

Last October the American company Williams International clinched a deal with Lithuanian government buying 33 percent shares stake and taking operational control over the Lithuanian oil corporation Mazeikiu Nafta Co. Williams is eagerly trying to cultivate a positive image in the Baltics which was unfortunately spoiled soon after the company's first appearance in Lithuania. This was related to the approach selected: Williams decided to approach the Lithuanian government in secrecy and ignored the possibility of a public backlash. BC has addressed the Director General of Williams Lietuva, Randy Majors on conclusions and future plans of the American investor after the first five months of activities in Lithuania


Gateway to the Sky

Airports are not hotels and they are not rated by a number of "stars." All aircraft passengers, irrespective of the ticket price should receive service of equal high quality. The Baltic airports are attempting to provide this high quality service. BC has prepared an overview of the Baltic States' airports.

Life in Motion

How is the airport Riga nowadays and how is it developing? That was the basic question for the discussion of BC between the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the BC and Dzintars Pommers, President of Riga Airport, who has been in charge of the main air gates of Latvia for eight years now.

Latvian Railway - the Hub for a Multimodal Transport Corridor

The geographical position of Latvia determines its essential role in international transport network. Beside the East - West transit corridor, the international Via Baltica highway crosses Latvia in the North - South direction. Most of the cargo transport in Latvia is transit, mainly raw materials from Russia - oil and oil products, metals, chemical cargoes as well as containers. The transit traffic is ensured by a multimodal transport infrastructure, consisting of ports, railway and road network, pipelines and air transport. The long-term programs of Latvian transport development are aimed at full incorporation in the Trans-European multimodal transport system.

From Prime Ministers to Millionaires

During the fast developing privatization process in the nineties, three Prime Ministers of the Baltic countries became millionaires by being involved in business activities and simultaneously being also in politics. The Baltic Course offers answers of Mr.Andris Skele, Mr. Bronislovas Lubis and Mr. Tiit Vjahi to the questions concerning the interrelation of business and politics. The interviews published last autumn by BC are also included in the material


Timber Industry vs. the Environment

The Baltic States take great pride in their forests. An oak tree even decorates the 5 lat banknote. The pine tree has become a symbol of the Baltics and its petrified resin, known as amber is forever linked to the Baltic States. Now this national heritage is one of the most important or even the most important export product for at least two out of the three Baltic countries: Latvia and Estonia. According to the World Wildlife Fund data, however this growing industry is damaging the forests. In comparing forests cover, condition and restoration, the Baltics were at the end of the list of twenty European countries. Only Denmark was ranked lower.


The Age Old Passion for Powders and Pills

A Baltic inhabitant annually spends USD 30-40 for medicine - three to four times less than in Europe. The Baltic pharmaceutical market totals to USD 500 mln and the market potential is by far under-utilized. The increased complexity of the registration process for pharmaceuticals limits the access of low quality medicaments to the market, squeezing the cheap and "traditional" pharmaceuticals made in Russia out of the market.

Soft Gold

The international center of fur trade has shifted from Europe to Moscow. The incredible diversity of furs on the snowy streets of the Russian capital and other large cities assures the necessity of developing fur farming, which is becoming a significant industry for many post-soviet countries. The Baltic States contribute significantly to the manufacturing of mink, polar fox, common fox and the so very popular chinchilla furs.

An Order to Survive

The important outcoming result of the past year: Baltic banks managed to overcome the consequences of the Russian crisis. The mood in the Baltic financial market is made by banks in the hands of Swedish investors.


The Golden Pit

Baltic hotel-owners are anticipating to raise the hotel business quality to international standards by active involvement in reconstruction of the old and the building of new hotels. The needs of business people who use hotels for international symposiums and conferences are not at all neglected in this process.