Lithuania seeks to expand business with South Africa through trade mission

26th October 2016 By: Keith Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The first ever trade mission to South Africa from Lithuania will arrive in the country on November 1. This is part of the European country’s programme of diversifying its trade and investment partners and expanding into the global economy. The trade mission will remain in the country until November 4.

“There has been a significant interest in South Africa by Lithuanian business,” affirmed international business consultancy The Business Mill CEO Zivile Jankauskaite, who hails from Lithuania. “There have been proposals for trade missions before, but this is the first and it is no coincidence that it follows the opening of the Lithuanian Embassy in South Africa – Lithuania is the only one of the three Baltic States to have an embassy in this country.

The mission was organised by government business promotion agency Enterprise Lithuania on quite short notice, following a presentation on business opportunities in South Africa by Jankauskaite. This was attended by 30 companies. Although the forthcoming business mission comprises only six companies, each represented a different sector of the Lithuanian economy.

The companies are a manufacturer of agricultural equipment, an organic food company, a custom-made wooden furniture company, a company that manufactures automotive filters for both commercial and private vehicles, a manufacturer of animal health products and an information technology (IT) company. “IT is a new strength for Lithuania,” she reported. “The sector is vibrant, there are quite a few specialists in Lithuania, with high quality and low costs.”

“All six companies are willing to manufacture for South African businesses under South African brands – they do not insist on pushing their own brands,” she emphasised. “With Lithuania, you get German quality for a little more than the Chinese price!”

Last year two-way trade between Lithuania and South Africa was worth almost €100-million. Lithuania’s main imports from this country were phosphate products, followed by fruits and precious metals. The Baltic State is increasing its imports from South Africa. Lithuania’s main exports to this country are wheat, other cereals and plastics.

Lithuania is one of three countries on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, in North East Europe, which regained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. (The other two are Latvia and Estonia.) Lithuania has a population of three-million, a gross domestic product (GDP) of €37-billion, a GDP per capita of €18 000 and an average annual growth rate, since 2011, of 3.3% (last year it was 1.8% and it is forecast to be 2.8% this year). The country is a member of the European Union and uses the Euro as its currency. The capital city is Vilnius.