Lithuania’s export in 2021: robust growth during challenging political and economic times

Exports
Exports

The analysis of statistical data by Versli Lietuva shows that the strong growth of crude oil and other commodity prices on the global market, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the difficult geopolitical situation in the East did not have a significant impact on Lithuania’s export performance in 2021.

According to the data of the Department of Statistics, Lithuania’s total goods exports in 2021 grew by 20.5% p.a. (16.4% p.a. excluding oil). Export growth rates were similar in the first and second half of the year. However, the second quarter of last year recorded the highest growth due to the low base effect in 2020, as at that time, restrictions on business activities were imposed in Lithuania and other countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Looking at the 2021 merchandise export performance, we can conclude that even in a challenging geopolitical and economic environment, Lithuanian exporters have adapted well, with one of the best performances in the last decade. We can see that in terms of the structure of exports of goods, the biggest positive influence on the overall export growth was the growth of exports of goods of Lithuanian origin,” says Jonė Kalendienė, Head of the Research and Analysis Department of the Entrepreneurship and Export Development Agency “Versli Lietuva”.

The growth of exports of goods of Lithuanian origin reached 25.9% year-on-year (20.7% excluding petroleum products), while re-exports increased by 12.7% (10.6% excluding petroleum products). From the beginning of 2021 onwards, the export of chemicals and chemical products had the most significant positive impact on the growth of exports of goods of Lithuanian origin, and this trend continued throughout the year. The increase in exports of these products during 2021 accounted for almost a third of the total growth in exports of goods of Lithuanian origin (7.2% out of 25.9%).

Other key Lithuanian exporting sectors, such as the oil industry (7%), engineering (4.2%), furniture (2.5%), and timber (2.4%), also had a positive impact. On the other hand, agriculture and tobacco negatively contributed to export growth (-0.3% and -1%, respectively).

The main export markets for Lithuanian-origin goods in 2021 were Germany, the USA, Poland, Latvia and the Netherlands, which together accounted for 40% of export value. On the other hand, the main re-export markets were Russia, Latvia, Poland, Estonia and Belarus, together accounting for around 60% of the re-export value.

“The statistics show that geopolitical tensions in the East have not significantly impacted Lithuania’s export performance. Moreover, the markets of Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and China account for a very small share in the structure of Lithuanian exports, so their influence on the overall export performance is very low,” J. Kalendienė concludes.

In 2021, Belarus was the 28th, Russia the 17th and Kazakhstan the 48th market in the list of the main export markets for goods of Lithuanian origin, together accounting for only 2.5% of the total value of exports of goods of Lithuanian origin. Nevertheless, exports of Lithuanian origin to Belarus grew by 1.6%, while those to Russia and Kazakhstan increased by 21% and 18.1%, respectively.

To China, the value of Lithuanian exports fell by 30%, with the most significant drop (excluding agricultural products) in the last quarter of the year, when it reached 36.1%. Taiwan did not compensate for the losses in China, where the value of Lithuanian exports increased by 7.8%. Overall, their impact on last year’s export growth figures was minimal.

Last year, Russia (1st largest), Belarus (5th largest) and Kazakhstan (9th largest) remained among Lithuania’s main re-export destinations, together accounting for 35.1% of the re-export structure. However, re-exports to Belarus grew by only 0.8%, while those to Russia and Kazakhstan declined by 4.2% and 11.6%, respectively.

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