It is customary in Lithuania’s political system for the government to alternate between parties on the opposite sides of the political spectrum with every two election cycles, says Andrius Iskauskas, Partner at Wint. And so, he notes, “right wing and liberal parties came to power and replaced the leftist parties after the elections in late October 2020.” Nonetheless, he points out, in parliament, curiously enough, a relatively new very liberal party formed a coalition with a more traditional right wing party.
Due to the recent change of government, Iskauskas says, the legislative process has been somewhat slow. “Nothing dramatic has been happening,” he says, “but a proposal of a new business support plan was made by the government last week.” In the meantime, he says, the process of attracting skilled workers to the country, mainly from Belarus, is still under way, and to that end, permissive immigration policies have been introduced. The new rules should facilitate the acquisition of a blue card and residence permits, as well as the recognition of credentials of foreign experts, especially from the IT field.
Despite the political sector’s shift, Lithuania’s business sector has seen some positive trends recently, according to Iskauskas, who says that “we feel quite good vibes from businesses, and their attitude is ‘we survived the first wave of the pandemic, we will survive the second.’” Those phrases reflect tangible improvements on the market, Iskauskas reports, noting that “the real estate market, both in terms of development and sale of commercial and residential units, has soared.” In addition, he says, “the levels of personal savings in banks have reached an all-time high recently,” which he says is only in part explained by the pandemic.
Another currently-prospering area is e-commerce, which, in Iskauskas’s words, really jumped at the opportunity to grow in the new sedentary reality. “Not only clothes, but also pharmaceuticals, and even groceries are being ordered online,” he explains. “Even my parents, who are now in their seventies, have switched to buying food online.” Seeing the upward trajectory of online sales, a few Lithuanian retailers – such as Rimi – also jumped on the wagon, according to Iskauskas, who reports that “Maxima, which is one of the largest Lithuanian companies, will also launch its business in Poland.”
Finally, disputes have increased, according to Iskauskas, and there has been a lot of work for lawyers in litigation, albeit in a less traditional fashion. “Prior to the pandemic people believed that online hearings are possible only in theory,” he says. “However, as soon as the pandemic struck, we have found a way to surpass all the obstacles and now live hearings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams are becoming common, at least in civil cases.”