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LITHUANIA


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 13,796 12,000 11,300 78
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 3,660 3,350 3,080 83
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Lithuania

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
65,200 

Population 
3,592,561 

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Lithuanians 81.3%
Russians 8.4%
Poles 7.0%

Capital
Vilnius 

Currency 
Litas

President
Valdas Adamkus

  

Update No: 286 - (28/10/04)

Demagogues prevail
Lithuanian politics is going the Latvian way. In Latvia parties that are barely one year old invariably win the elections, as Einars Repse's New Way did last time in 2002 and then fade away after becoming unpopular in power, invariably as head of a coalition government.
Lithuania used to have a more consistent pattern with an alternation of Social Democrat- and Conservative-led coalitions in power. On Oct 10th the Lithuanians propelled Russian multimillionaire Victor Uspaskich and his populist Labour Party, founded only a year ago, to victory in Lithuania's parliamentary elections. Having won 28.46 per cent support in proportional voting, the Labour Party is guaranteed at least 22 seats in the new Seimas (Lithuania's parliament), though this number is expected to increase significantly after the second round of voting in single-mandate districts. 
Half of Lithuania's Parliament (70 seats) is selected on proportionate party-basis and the other (71 seats) through single mandates.
Uspaskich, who made his fortune selling pickles and speculating on real estate, triumphed over Chairman of the Liberal and Centre Union Arturas Zuokas in his hometown of Kedainiai, setting a record voting support of 68 per cent. He promised voters the Earth. Doubtless, they thought, if he can do it for himself, he can do it for us.
Working for Lithuania, the Union of Social Democrats and Social Liberals who make up the country's ruling coalition, finished second with 20.65 per cent of the vote, according to the Central Election Committee. But the day belonged to the Darbo Partija. In fact, the Labourites were so confident of victory throughout the tally that many members paid more attention to the Social Democrats' returns than their own. 
But despite the victory, the Labourites, who had campaigned on a basket of social promises that other politicians and analysts decried as demagogic, extravagant and impossible, were given the cold-shoulder by the country's ruling elite, including President Valdas Adamkus, who neglected to carry out protocol and call with words of congratulations. 
This caused no small amount of indignation, and Uspaskich, unwilling to restrain himself, called Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas to congratulate the latter with his second-place finish. He also inquired later that night as to why the president had failed to congratulate the Labour Party.
In addition, four other parties - the Homeland Union, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal and Centre Union, and the Union of Farmers and New Democracy parties - managed to cross the 5 per cent barrier. The conservative Homeland Union and the Liberal and Centre Union were particularly content with their results, finishing third and fifth respectively. The Homeland Union garnered 14.74 per cent, or the equivalent of 11 mandates, while the Liberals mustered 9.18 per cent, or seven mandates. 
"I should say that right-wing parties performed well, and considering voter turnout, which was a record low, the election results achieved by right wing forces, in my opinion, are good indeed," Liberal leader and Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas said in a press conference on Oct 11th.
Impeached President Rolandas Paksas' party, the Liberal Democrats, finished fourth with 11.42 per cent of the vote.
Merely 36.71 per cent of Lithuania's eligible voters cast their ballots on election day, another 7.6 per cent voted by post. Falling from 58.6 per cent in the last parliamentary election, the record-low turnout was seen as voters' expression of disgust with Lithuanian politics, marred this year by a presidential impeachment and parliamentary corruption scandals.
Even the president could not conceal his alarm at the low level of voter activity. "I am sorry that a big part of the electorate did not avail the right to elect a parliament that would be entrusted with the future of Lithuania. Although there are moments of disappointment in the lives of most people, this should not overshadow responsibility to the state," Adamkus said.
Large parts of the electorate will have to hit the voting booths again on Oct. 24 in the run-off ballots for single-mandate districts. These results will ultimately decide which parties have the power to forge a coalition. Both the right-wing parties and the Social Democrats still have not lost hope to become the next Parliament's driving force and put the Labour Party into opposition.
Lithuania is one of 10 nations that joined the EU May 1st. Its $18 billion economy grew 9.7 per cent last year, the fastest pace in Europe, and expanded 7.2 percent in the first half of 2004.

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AUTOMOBILES

MAZ Baltia truck assembly centre opens in Lithuania


Lithuania's Zemgalos automobiliai opened on September 22nd in Vilnius the MAZ-Baltia assembly centre of Belarus' MAZ trucks, Alexie Tutubalin, deputy director general for foreign affairs, said, New Europe reported.
According to him, the centre required more than five million litas in investments, Diana Babalauskebe, the marketing director of Zemgalos automobiliai, said.
In 2004 the assembly centre is expected to produce 200 MAZ prime movers with a carrying capacity ranging between 10 and 20 tonnes and dump trucks. The Lithuanian production line's annual capacity is at about 500 trucks. The vehicles assembled in Lithuania are planned to be sold to Latvia, Estonia and some other EU countries, the source said.
The main reason for the organisation of the MAZ assembly in Lithuania is the country's accession to the EU, which means that Lithuania will collect a 22 per cent customs duty on all vehicles imported from third states. In January-August 2004 MAZ produced 13,160 automobiles (22.5 per cent up year-on-year), 3,433 trailers and semi-trailers (up 30.1 per cent), 419 buses (up 42.5 per cent).
The total output of the enterprise made 775.9 billion Belarussian rubles in comparable prices (up 26.7 per cent).
Minsk Automobile Plant - the largest producer of prime movers in the territory of the former USSR - manufactures around 150 modifications of vehicles, along with towing vehicles, buses, consumer goods. Over 60 per cent (in cost terms) of all materials and components are bought in the Russian Federation, and insignificant amounts are imported from Ukraine and states outside the CIS.

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BANKING

Bankas to buy Ukraine's Agio

Vilniaus Bankas bank, part of the SEB group, applied to the Bank of Lithuania for permission to acquire the Ukrainian bank Agio, New Europe reported.
According to the agreement signed with Agio, Vilniaus Bankas (VB) will put the 90 per cent controlling interest in the Ukrainian bank. VB expects the agreement to take effect by the end of this year. The acquisition is a part of SEB's plans to build up its position in Northern Europe. In addition, the move reflects the increased activity of the group's business clients in East Europe. "SEB will be the first Scandinavian bank operating in Lithuania," said Raimondas Kvedaras, deputy chairman of VB's board.

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