The Baltic Course  

Lithuania attracts foreign investors

Ruta Vilunene

The Lithuanian textile and sewing industry is the leader in terms of the number of employees and takes second place in terms of output amongst manufacturing companies. There are 559 textile and sewing companies in Lithuania (including all private ones) making up 20% of all enterprises in the country, employing a army of 56,500 people, or 27% of all people employed in the country's economy. More than 35 thousand people are employed in 414 sewing companies.

During the last five years, there has been steady growth in the export of textile and sewing articles. The industry is one of the leaders in exports - 20% of the national export (1.68 billion litas during the first half of 2002), it also has a positive trade balance (in the amount of 350 million litas). The biggest increase is in the export of clothes was a gain of 26.7% in 2001. The share of exports to the EU is 83%; the main partners are Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the USA and Italy. Only 7.5% of the exported goods are intended for Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, 1.5% - for Latvia, 1.2% - for Estonia. In comparison to 1998, the amount of exports to  neighboring Latvia and imports from there have decreased (by 36.2% and 42.4% respectively). The largest decrease was in the export of flax articles and imports in all positions. There are 36 Lithuanian - Latvian joint ventures with a statutory capital of 10,000 litas.

By amount of foreign investments, Lithuania's light industry takes second place after the food industry (15.8% of all direct investments to the country). The annual increase in the industry is 13.2 million litas.

The Gariunai market in Vilnius causes a loss to the industry. There are 12 companies based here selling goods only from China. Prices of goods from China rarely differ form the ones manufactured in the Baltic States (jeans - 1 litas, men's shirts - 0.80 litas, a pair of shoes - 2 litas).