Survey: German companies in the Baltic countries remain optimistic

27.04.2012, 10:38

The German companies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are predominantly rating their business situation in 2012 positively, shows a survey conducted by the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (AHK Baltic States).

The business results for 2011 fulfilled their optimistic expectations and the forecasts for 2012 are also good.
90 percent of the respondents are satisfied with their business situation.

Need of improvement is seen regarding the availability of skilled labour and the general business environment.

These are the main results of this year’s survey amongst the members of the German – Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (AHK).

118 member companies participated in the survey.

The upward trend for the German companies in the Baltic States clearly continues. In the beginning of 2012 most of the participating companies once again rate their business situation as good or at least satisfactory. After the strong economic growth in 2011 one quarter of the respondents expects further improvement in 2012. Economic growth in 2011 amounted to 5.3 percent in Latvia, 5.8 percent in Lithuania and even 7.5 percent in Estonia – in the year of its entering into the Euro zone. Thus the gross domestic products of the three Baltic States developed much more dynamically than the average of all EU member states.

“It is quite noteworthy that 90 percent of the participating companies in the Baltic States rate their business situation as good or satisfactory”, stated the Chamber’s President Thomas Schöllkopf at a press conference. “The three Baltic States have definitely left the crisis behind. They present themselves not only as interesting business locations for investments, but also as supplier and sales markets for German companies.”

The main contributor to the boost in the Baltic States continues to be the strengthened bilateral trade. In all three Baltic States Germany remains the second respectively third largest trading partner. While exports from the Baltic States to Germany already exceeded the pre-crisis level by the end of 2010, they further increased in 2011 with an average of 35 percent. The participating companies confirmed that trend with a 40 percent increase in their own exports. For 2012 over 90 percent of the respondents expect a further increase or at least no change in the export figures. In addition to that development imports from Germany recovered significantly in 2011 as well.

While 75 percent of the survey participants are generally satisfied with the current governments in the Baltic States, some critical aspects are once again mentioned.
Approximately every tenth respondent is concerned about the general economic framework. As the most urgent fields of action the participants once again list the quality of the vocational education system and the resulting lack of skilled labour, insufficient transparency regarding public tenders and the granting of subsidies. In Latvia and Lithuania, the issue of asserting legal rights is also brought forward.

Three-fourths of the respondents would repeat their investment decision for their respective location in the Baltic States. In addition to this, their readiness to further invest on site is increasing significantly: more than 30 percent of the participants are planning to elevate investments in 2012 and even 40 percent expect to increase their workforce.

“It is important for the Baltic States to be predictable business locations for German companies in order to increase their readiness to further invest - now that they have proven their sustainability by their remarkable recovery from the crisis” Maren Diale-Schellschmidt, CEO of the German-Baltic Chamber, emphasized. “The potential is there – it must be accompanied by the trust in the security of the business framework such as the assertion of legal rights and availability of skilled labour. With regard to the latter, German companies point to the German dual vocational training scheme. They would like to see some of its aspects implemented also in the Baltic States.”