“At this time, no country represents more than one tenth of our export market. So we have a perfectly geographically diversified export structure. If in the future one or other of our export partners suffers serious economic problems, it would not be a factor that would destabilize the economic situation in Lithuania,” SEB bank chief economist Gitanas Nausėda told tv3.lt.
Exports to Russia have been falling since last year as Lithuanian companies successfully sought other markets and were hit by an embargo on certain products.
Nausėda said there was not a significant chance of Russia re-emerging as Lithuania’s key export market in 2016.
“The long-term trend has been consistent since the second half of 2014, when sanctions were introduced and Russia’s economic crisis began. Exports to Russia significantly decreased, and it was only a matter of time for Russia to lose its position in first place. I doubt whether the sanctions for Lithuanian goods will be lifted this year.
“In addition non-sanctioned re-exported goods cannot be exported because of a weakened ruble and Russia’s weak purchasing power. All things considered, the outlook for export to Russia has darkened. This is not a monthly or even half year trend, but a trend for the next few years,” said Nausėda.
Aleksandras Izgorodinas, the head of the foreign relations and business services department at Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, says that weakness is not only exports to Russia but also in exports to other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.
Lithuanian exports to Russia last year fell by 50%, but total exports grew by 3%.
“It will not be easy to return to the Russian market. Russia itself has invested a lot in its industry, has started an import reduction policy,” said Izgorodinas.