The situation in Lithuania is quite dynamic at the moment, says Robertas Ciocys, Partner at Ellex Valiunas, pointing both to the recent parliamentary elections and the overspill of Belarusian IT companies into the country.
“Our elections consist of two rounds,” Ciocys explains. “In the first round, where we elect one half of the parliament, we vote for political parties, and in the second round we vote for individual politicians.” According to him, “the most important trait of our system is that you always have a coalition government. As a result it is more difficult for just one party to dominate the political discourse.” As far as the results of this year’s elections are concerned, Ciocys says, “it seems we will have a change in our government and the center-right coalition will probably take over. That change seems to be welcomed by both the business sector and a large portion of our population.”
Despite the potential change in government, Ciocys does not expect Lithuania to depart from its strategy of attracting Belarusian IT companies to its market. Many Belarusian companies were prompted by the political unrest in their country to move their businesses to the Baltics or Ukraine, he says. “We are closer to them, geographically speaking,” he says, so “a number of companies are expected to relocate here, and our government is in the process of facilitating their move. Since they are coming from a non-EU country, we are trying to adapt our legislation in order to speed up the immigration process and facilitate the establishment of companies, and we are working to issue work permits for those companies."
According to Ciocys, “Lithuania has been trying to position itself as a key regional partner to big companies for outsourcing accounting and IT work. Danske Bank is one of the examples. The current view is that, in comparison to the volume of work, there is a lack of IT specialists on the market. That could be changed with the influx of Belarusian companies.”
Apart from the booming IT sector, Ciocys says, most industries in Lithuania are experiencing the same problems they are elsewhere in Europe. But not all. “Some sectors have slowed down, but the pharmaceutical industry is very busy. Also, there is a view that, as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis, a lot of the manufacturing will shift from China to Europe.” According to him, “states and companies do not want China as their sole supplier. As a result, they have begun approaching some of our manufacturers across different sectors, and we will see what that will bring us in the future.”