major macro economic indicators
|GDP growth (%)||3.5||1.8||2.1||2.8|
|Inflation (yearly average) (%)||0.2||-0.7||0.8||2.0|
|Budget balance (% GDP)||-0.7||-0.2||-0.3||-0.8|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||3.8||-2.2||-1.0||-2.0|
|Public debt (% GDP)||40.5||42.7||40.3||43.4|
- Membership of the Euro zone (2015)
- Prospect of OECD membership
- Solid public and external accounts
- Banking system dominated by three Scandinavian banks
- Transit region between European Union and Russia/Kaliningrad enclave
- Diversification of energy supply (Klaipeda gas terminal, shale gas potential, electricity interconnections with Poland and Sweden)
- Shrinking economically active population (emigration of skilled young people)
- Large underground economy (26% of GDP)
- Large disparity between the capital and the regions, especially in the north-east
- High level of structural unemployment
- Limited added value of exports (mineral products, timber, agri-food, furniture, electrical equipment)
- Competitiveness eroded by insufficient productivity gains
Activity driven by internal demand
Activity will accelerate in 2017. After falling as a result of the gap between two European programmes, public infrastructure investment will grow strongly thanks to the return of European funds. However, private consumption (65% of GDP) will continue to be the key driver. Households will benefit from a 60% rise in the income tax threshold and continued wage growth linked to the lack of skilled labour and an increase in the minimum wage. However, the growth in consumption could be dampened by the return of inflation and a downturn in employment connected with the decline in the economically active population. Exports (over 70% of GDP), 60% of which are directed to the European Union, will benefit from moderate European growth. The price of wheat, timber, dairy products, fruit and fertilisers (together accounting for 14% of exports), as well as prices for products from the Orlen Lietuva refinery (16% of exports) owned by the Polish Orlen group, the country's highest taxpayer, will not fall any further. Furthermore, following the Russian counter-sanctions and recession accompanied by the fall in the rouble, substitutes have been found for the markets in agri-food products and for road transport for transhipment routes serving Russia. However, as imports, boosted by the strength of domestic demand and specifically the recovery of public investment, are expected to grow faster than exports, the contribution of trade to growth could turn slightly negative.
Small public and current account deficits
There has been a significant improvement in the public accounts since 2009, when the deficit exceeded 9%. Even if the increase in defence spending, the indexation of pensions and cuts to social charges planned for 2017 are only partially offset by higher revenues associated with rising consumption and incomes, the overall deficit is projected to remain small. The burden of public debt (85% held by non-residents and 37% denominated in USD) is expected to undergo a technical increase in 2017, connected with early refinancing of maturities falling due. The decline will be slow, especially as the structural deficit (-1.4% forecast for 2016), that is corrected for the influence of the economic cycle, is not reducing.
The trade in goods deficit (5.3% of GDP in 2015) could edge up in 2017 because of strong internal demand which the local manufacturing output can only partially meet. The services surplus generated by road haulage should cover almost all the trade in goods deficit. Dividend and interest repatriation by foreign investors (4.3% of GDP in 2015) will again exceed emigrants' remittances (2.7%). In these conditions, the current account balance could deteriorate slightly, but the deficit will still be small. European structural funds, on average 3% of GDP each year, will continue to finance transport and energy infrastructure, research and innovation. Foreign direct investments will continue to come mainly from northern Europe and will be directed to a diverse range of sectors. The external debt burden (84% of GDP at end June 2016) is slowly shrinking as the banks reduce their debt (15% of total) owed to their parent companies. 63% is owed by the public sector, 11% by non-financial companies, with the balance corresponding to intragroup commitments within the framework of the FDIs.
The unprecedented arrival of centrist parties to power is not expected to bring much change
Annoyed by corruption, the new labour code and the fact that the standard of living is below the European average, the electorate voted in the October 2016 elections, against all expectations, to give power to the centrist Farmers and Greens Union (LVZS) which won 56 out of 141 in the Seimas, the local parliament. Putting an end to the alternating coalitions led by the conservatives and the social democrats, Saulius Skvernelis (LVZS) formed a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (17 seats). This notwithstanding, policies are unlikely to change much, The new Social Model prepared by the previous team with the aim of reducing inequalities and poverty as well as consolidating the pension system is likely to be adopted. With government income accounting for 34% of GDP and a flat rate income tax of 15 %, there is some leeway. Against this, the new labour code intended to loosen up the market, which President Dalia Grybauskaité, an independent, vetoed on account of insufficient worker’s protection, is likely to be revised. The role of the State could be strengthened through the creation of a development bank, the introduction of a state-owned monopoly on the sale of alcohol and the creation state-owned pharmacies. The president will maintain her pro-European stance and firmness towards Russia, since the country shares a border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, home to a major naval base. The Polish minority (7% of the population) will continue to be the subject of criticism because of its alleged collusion with Russia.
Last update : January 2017