Located in the Baltic region of northeastern Europe, Latvia is a member of the EU, Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Latvian government recognizes that, as a small country, it must attract foreign investment to foster economic growth, and thus has pursued liberal economic policies and developed infrastructure to position itself as a transportation and logistics hub. As a member of the European Union, Latvia applies EU laws and regulations, and, according to current legislation, foreign investors possess the same rights and obligations as local investors (with certain exceptions). Any foreign investor is entitled to establish and own a company in Latvia and apply for a temporary residence permit.
Latvia provides several advantages to potential investors, including:
Regional hub: Latvia is a transportation and logistics hub between West and East, providing strategic access to both the EU market and to Russia and Central Asia. Latvia’s three ice-free ports are connected to the country’s rail and road networks and to the largest international airport in the Baltic region (Riga International Airport). Latvia’s road network is connected to both European and Central Asian road networks. Railroads connect Latvia with the other Baltic States, Russia, and Belarus, with further connections extending into Central Asia and China.
Workforce: Latvia’s workforce is highly educated and multilingual, and its culture promotes hard work and dependability. Labor costs in Latvia are the fifth lowest in the EU.
Competitive tax system: Latvia ranked second in the OECD’s 2021 International Tax Competitiveness Index Rankings. To further boost its competitiveness, the Latvian government has abolished taxes on reinvested profits and has established special incentives for foreign and domestic investment. There are five special economic zones (SEZs) in Latvia: Riga Free Port, Ventspils Free Port, Liepaja Special Economic Zone, Rezekne Special Economic Zone, and Latgale Special Economic Zone, which provide various tax benefits for investors. The Latgale Special Economic Zone covers a large part of Latgale, which is the most economically challenged region in Latvia, bordering Russia and Belarus.
Despite the continued COVID-19 pandemic, Latvia’s GDP increased by 4.8 percent in 2021, rebounding from the 3.6 percent contraction in 2020. According to the government, growth in manufacturing and services sectors contributed to the economic growth. The most competitive sectors in Latvia remain woodworking, metalworking, transportation, IT, green tech, healthcare, life science, food processing, and finance. Recent reports suggest that some of the most significant challenges investors encounter in Latvia are a shortage of available workforce, demography, quality of education, and a significant shadow economy.
Latvia has made significant progress combatting money laundering since its non-resident banking sector first came under increased regulatory scrutiny in 2018 because of inadequate compliance with international AML standards. In late 2019 and early 2020, MONEYVAL and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concluded that Latvia had developed and implemented strong enough reforms for combating financial crimes to avoid inclusion on FATF’s so-called “grey list.” The Government of Latvia continues work to restore confidence in its financial institutions and has passed several pieces of additional reform legislation. Latvia also became the first member state under the MONEYVAL review to successfully implement all 40 FATF recommendations.
Some investors note a perceived lack of fairness and transparency with Latvian public procurements. Several companies, including foreign companies, have complained that bidding requirements are sometimes written with the assistance of potential contractors or couched in terms that exclude all but “preferred” contractors.
The chart below shows Latvia’s ranking on several prominent international measures of interest to potential investors.
*These figures significantly underestimate the value of U.S. investment in Latvia due to the fact that these do not account for investments by U.S. firms through their European subsidiaries.
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
The Latvian government actively encourages foreign direct investment (FDI) and works with investors to improve the country’s business climate. Latvia has a dedicated investment promotion agency – Latvian Investment and Development Agency – to provide a full scope of investment services to prospective investors: https://www.liaa.gov.lv/en. As of April 2022, the agency has two dedicated representatives based in the United States (San Francisco, CA and Boston, MA). The Latvian government meets annually with the Foreign Investors Council in Latvia (FICIL), which represents large foreign companies and chambers of commerce, to improve the business environment and encourage foreign investment. The Prime Minister chairs the Coordination Council for Large and Strategically Important Investment Projects. In January 2021, FICIL published its Sentiment Index 2020 – a survey of current foreign investors’ assessments about the investment climate in Latvia. It is available at: https://www.ficil.lv/sentiment-index/ .
Latvian legislation, on the basis of national security concerns, requires governmental approval prior to transfers of significant ownership interests in the energy, telecommunications, and media sectors. The government is considering expanding this list of sectors. Detailed information is available here: https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/country-navigator/118/latvia.
With these limited exceptions, physical and legal persons who are citizens of Latvia or of other EU countries may freely purchase real property. In general, physical and legal persons who are citizens of non-EU countries (third-country nationals) may also freely purchase developed real property. However, third-country nationals may not directly purchase certain types of agricultural, forest, and undeveloped land. Such persons may acquire ownership interest in such land through a company registered in the Register of Enterprises of the Republic of Latvia, provided that more than 50 percent of the company is owned by: (a) Latvian citizens and/or Latvian governmental entities; and/or (b) physical or legal persons from countries with which Latvia signed and ratified an international agreement on the promotion and protection of investments on or before December 31, 1996; or for agreements concluded after this date, so long as such agreements provide for reciprocal rights to land acquisition. The United States and Latvia have such an agreement (a bilateral investment treaty in force since 1996). In addition, foreign investors can lease land without restriction for up to 99 years. The Law on Land Privatization in Rural Areas allows EU citizens to purchase Latvia’s agricultural land and forests. Other restrictions apply (to both Latvian citizens and foreigners) regarding the acquisition of land in Latvia’s border areas, Baltic Sea and Gulf of Riga dune areas, and other protected areas.
In May 2017, the President of Latvia promulgated amendments to the Law on Land Privatization in Rural Areas to simplify and clarify the process for local farmers to purchase land. The law, however, also prohibits foreigners who do not have a working knowledge of the Latvian language from purchasing agricultural land. On June 11, 2020 the Court of Justice of the EU found that the law violated European law, but the Latvian government has yet to amend the law.
The Latvian constitution guarantees the right to private ownership. Both domestic and foreign private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of commercial activity, except those expressly prohibited by law.
Using the European Commission definitions of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Latvia has established a special tax regime for microenterprises. This special tax regime is available to foreign nationals. Changes introduced as of January 2022, including an increased microenterprise tax rate, now make the tax regime less attractive for most small companies. For additional details on the microenterprise tax regime, see: https://www.fm.gov.lv/en/micro-enterprise-tax
The Latvian government does not incentivize outward investment nor restrict Latvians from investing overseas.
3. Legal Regime
The Latvian government has amended its laws and regulatory procedures to bring Latvia’s legislation in compliance with the EU and WTO GPA requirements. The Latvian government has developed a good working relationship with the foreign business community (through FICIL) to streamline various bureaucratic procedures and to address legal and regulatory issues as they arise. Additional information on the regulatory system in Latvia is available here: http://rulemaking.worldbank.org/en/data/explorecountries/latvia.
The public finance and debt obligations process is transparent. Detailed information on the national budget process is available on the Latvian Ministry of Finance’s website: https://www.fm.gov.lv/en/s/budget/.
As an EU member, Latvia has incorporated European norms and standards into its regulatory system. As an EU member, Latvia is a signatory to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. As a WTO member, Latvia has the duty to notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.
Latvia has a three-tier court system comprising district (city) courts, regional courts, and the Supreme Court. In addition, the Constitutional Court reviews the compatibility of decrees and acts of the President of the Republic, the government, and local authorities with the constitution and the law. Unless otherwise stipulated by law, district courts are the courts of first instance in all civil, criminal, and administrative cases. Regional courts have appellate jurisdiction over district court cases and original jurisdiction for certain cases specified in the Civil Code, such as cases on the protection of patent rights, trademarks, and geographic indicators, as well as cases on the insolvency and liquidation of credit institutions. The Supreme Court is the highest-level court in Latvia and – depending on the origin of the case – has either de novo review of both factual and legal findings or, in instances where it is the second appellate court reviewing a case, cassation review of only legal findings. In March 2021, Latvia established a specialized Economic Court to handle cases of corruption, economic crimes, and complex commercial disputes.
City and regional courts are administered by the Ministry of Justice (https://www.tm.gov.lv/en ), while the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court are independent.
Observers have voiced concerns about the length of criminal and civil cases in Latvia, and the nature and opacity of judicial rulings have led some investors to question the fairness and impartiality of some judges. These concerns are not specific to foreign or local investors, however, and the court system is generally viewed as applying the law equally to the interests of foreign and local investors. Although the Ministry of Justice has enacted reforms designed to reduce the backlog of cases in the lower courts, improvements in the judicial system are still needed to accelerate the adjudication of cases, to strengthen the enforcement of court decisions, and to upgrade professional standards. The Economic Court’s creation was part of an effort by the government to accelerate and improve adjudication of commercial cases and financial crimes.
Cases of arbitrary expropriation of private property by the Government of Latvia are extremely rare. Expropriation of foreign investment is possible in a very limited number of cases specified in the Law on the Alienation of Immovable Property Necessary for Public Needs: (https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/220517-law-on-the-alienation-of-immovable-property-necessary-for-public-needs). If the owner of the property claimed by the government deems the compensation inadequate, he or she may challenge the government’s decision in a Latvian court.
There are two laws governing bankruptcy procedure: the Law on Insolvency and the Law on Credit Institutions (regulating bankruptcy procedures for banks and other financial sector companies).
The business community has expressed concerns over inefficiency and allegations of corruption in Latvia’s insolvency administration system. One way Latvia has addressed the issue was partnering with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the September 2019 launch a project entitled “Support for Debt Restructuring in Latvia.” More information is available here: https://www.ebrd.com/news/2019/support-for-debt-restructuring-in-latvia-project-launched.html.
4. Industrial Policies
Latvia does not offer tax incentives. The Cross-Sectoral Coordination Center of Latvia is the main agency in charge of National Development Planning. In accordance with the Law on the Development Planning System (https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=175748), national development planning documents are prepared for a long-term (up to 25 years), medium-term (up to seven years) and short-term (up to three years). More information available here: https://www.pkc.gov.lv/en/national-development-planning.
Because the Latvian government extends national treatment to foreign investors, most investment incentives and requirements apply equally to local and foreign businesses. Latvia has three special economic zones and two free ports in which companies benefit from various tax rebates (real estate, dividend, and corporate income) and do not pay VAT. The full list of investment incentives is available here: https://www.liaa.gov.lv/en/invest-latvia/business-guide/business-incentives.
Latvia does not have a practice of issuing guarantees or jointly financing foreign direct investment projects.
Latvia has the third highest share of renewables in total energy consumption (42.1 percent) within the European Union only behind Sweden and Finland. In Latvia, renewable electricity generation is promoted through a support system based on feed-in tariffs, but the current support mechanism is being revised due to concerns of lack of transparency and abuse of the system. Latvia’s National Climate and Energy Action Plan 2021-2030 is available here: https://www.em.gov.lv/en/national-energy-and-climate-plan-2021-2030.
There are five free trade areas in Latvia. Free ports have been established in Riga and Ventspils. Special economic zones (SEZ) have been created in Liepaja, a port city in western Latvia; Rezekne, a city in eastern Latvia; and an additional SEZ in Latgale, the poorest region in Latvia, which borders Russia and Belarus.
Somewhat different rules apply to each of the five zones. In general, the two free ports provide exemptions from indirect taxes, including customs duties, VAT, and excise tax. The SEZs offer additional incentives, such as an 80-100 percent reduction of corporate income taxes and real estate taxes. To qualify for tax relief and other benefits, companies must receive permits and sign agreements with the appropriate authorities: the Riga and the Ventspils Port Authorities, for the respective free ports; the Liepaja SEZ Administration; the Rezekne SEZ Administration; or the Latgale SEZ Administration. The SEZs are expected to be in place until 2035.
Except for specific requirements for investors acquiring former state enterprises through the privatization process, there are no performance requirements for a foreign investor to establish, maintain, or expand an investment in Latvia. In the privatization process, performance requirements for investors, both foreign and domestic, are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Under Latvian Immigration Law, foreign citizens can enter and reside in Latvia for temporary business activities for up to three months in a six-month period. For longer periods of time, foreigners are required to obtain residence and work permits. The Latvian Investment and Development Agency has created a guide to help third-country nationals interested in working in Latvia obtain work permits: https://investinlatvia.org/assets/upload/Relocation%20Guide-web.pdf .
A third-country national may obtain a five-year temporary residence permit if he or she has made certain minimum equity investments in a Latvian company, certain subordinated investments in a Latvian credit institution, or purchased real estate for certain designated sums, subject to limitations in each case. More information is available here: https://www.liaa.gov.lv/en/invest-latvia/business-guide/operating-environment.
To harmonize its legislation with EU and WTO requirements, Latvia has established a legal framework for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), including legislation to protect copyrights, trademarks, and patents. The Law on Copyrights strengthens the protection of software copyrights and neighboring rights. Foreign owners may seek redress for violation of their IPR through the appellation council at the Latvian Patent Office, as well as through private litigation. In copyright violation cases, aggrieved parties can request that the use of the pirated works be prohibited, pirated copies be destroyed, and that violators compensate them for losses (including lost profits). The criminal law stipulates penalties for copyright violations.
The United States has signed a Trade and Intellectual Property Rights Agreement with Latvia. Latvia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, and the Geneva Phonograms Convention. In addition, the Latvian government has amended all relevant laws and regulations to comply with the requirements of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to which Latvia acceded by joining the WTO.
Contact at Copyright Offices
Ms. Ilona Petersone
Director of Copyright Division, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia
+371 6733-0240 Ilona.Petersone@km.gov.lv
Contact at Industrial Property Offices
Mr. Agris Batalauskis
Director of the Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia
+371 670 99 600 firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Financial Sector
Latvian government policies do not interfere with the free flow of financial resources or the allocation of credit. Local bank loans are available to foreign investors. The NASDAQ/OMX Riga Stock Exchange (RSE) (www.nasdaqomxbaltic.com) operates in Latvia, and the securities market is based on the continental European model. Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have agreed to create a pan-Baltic capital market by creating a single index classification for the entire Baltic region. Latvia is currently rated by various index providers as a frontier market due to its small size and limited liquidity. https://www.fm.gov.lv/en/article/latvia-passes-ebrd-supported-covered-bond-law
Latvia’s retail banking sector, which is composed primarily of Scandinavian retail banks, generally maintains a positive reputation. Latvian banks servicing non-resident clients, however, have come under increased scrutiny for inadequate compliance with anti-money laundering standards. In 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) identified Latvia’s third-largest bank as a “foreign bank of primary money laundering concern” and issued a proposed rule prohibiting U.S. banks from doing business with or on behalf of the bank. The Latvian bank regulator has also levied fines against several non-resident banks for AML violations in recent years.
Latvia is a member of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. On August 23, 2018, MONEYVAL issued a report finding that Latvia’s AML regime was in substantial compliance with only one out of eleven assessment categories, was in moderate compliance with eight areas, but in low compliance with two areas. In late 2019 and early 2020, MONEYVAL and the FATF concluded that Latvia has developed and implemented strong enough reforms for combating financial crimes to avoid increased monitoring via the so-called “grey list.” With this decision, Latvia became the first member state under the MONEYVAL review to successfully implement all 40 FATF recommendations. The most recent MONEYVAL report can be found at: https://rm.coe.int/anti-money-laundering-and-counter-terrorist-financing-measures-latvia-/16809988c1.
According to Latvian banking regulators, Latvia’s regulatory framework for commercial banking incorporates all principal requirements of EU directives, including a unified capital and financial markets regulator. Existing banking legislation includes provisions on accounting and financial statements (including adherence to international accounting), minimum initial capital requirements, capital adequacy requirements, large exposures, restrictions on insider lending, open foreign exchange positions, and loan-loss provisions. An Anti-Money Laundering Law and Deposit Guarantee Law have been adopted. An independent Financial Intelligence unit (FIU) operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior. Some of the banking regulations, such as capital adequacy and loan-loss provisions, reportedly exceed EU requirements.
Securities markets are regulated by the Law on the Consolidated Capital Markets Regulator, the Law on the Financial Instrument Market, and several other laws and regulations.
Latvia does not have a sovereign wealth fund.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are active in the energy and mining, aerospace and defense, services, information and communication, automotive and ground transportation, and forestry sectors. Private enterprises may compete with public enterprises on the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations such as licenses and supplies.
The Latvian government has implemented the requirements of the EU’s Third Energy Package with respect to the electricity sector, including opening the electricity market to private power producers and allowing them to compete on an equal footing with Latvenergo, the state-owned power company. The country’s natural gas market has also been liberalized, creating competition among privately owned gas suppliers.
Latvia, as an EU member, is a party to the Government Procurement Agreement within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and SOEs are covered under the agreement.
Senior managers of major SOEs in Latvia report to independent boards of directors, which in turn report to line ministries. SOEs operate under the Law on Public Persons Enterprises and Capital Shares Governance. The law also establishes an entity that coordinates state enterprise ownership and requires annual aggregate reporting. Detailed information on Latvian SOEs is available here: http://www.valstskapitals.gov.lv/en/ .
The Law on Privatization of State and Municipal Property governs the privatization process in Latvia. State joint stock company “Possessor” (https://www.possessor.gov.lv/) uses a case-by-case approach to determine the method of privatization for each state enterprise. The three allowable methods are: public offering, auction for selected bidders, and international tender. For some of the largest privatized companies, a percentage of shares may be sold publicly on the NASDAQ OMX Riga Stock Exchange. The government may maintain shares in companies deemed important to the state’s strategic interests. Privatization of small and medium-sized state enterprises is considered to be largely complete.
Latvian law designates six State Joint Stock Companies that cannot be privatized: Latvenergo (Energy and Mining), Latvijas Pasts (Postal Services), Riga International Airport, Latvijas Dzelzcels (Automotive and Ground Transportation), Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme (Aerospace and Defense), and Latvijas Valsts Mezi (Forestry). Other large companies in which the Latvian government holds a controlling interest include airBaltic (Travel), TET (Information and Communication), Latvian Mobile Telephone (Information and Communication), and Conexus Baltic Grid (Energy). Due to the pandemic, the government invested EUR 250 million into airBaltic equity, thus increasing its stake in the airline to 96.14%. The airline plans to return the investment to the state, via an initial public offering, potentially in 2023-2024.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Awareness of and implementation of due diligence principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR)/Responsible Business Conduct is developing among producers and consumers. Two of the most active promoters of CSR are the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia and the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia. The Latvian Ministry of Welfare also promotes CSR. Several other initiatives promote CSR, such as the Institute for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (https://www.incsr.eu/), the Corporate Social Responsibility Platform (http://www.ksalatvija.lv/en), and the Human Development Award (http://www.cilvekaizaugsme.lv/home/).
Latvian law enforcement institutions, foreign business representatives, and non-governmental organizations have identified corruption and the perception of corruption as persistent problems in Latvia. According to the 2021 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Latvia ranks 36th out of 180 countries (in order from the lowest perceived level of public sector corruption to the highest).
To strengthen its anti-corruption programs, the Latvian government has adopted several laws and regulations, including the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism and Proliferation Financing and the Law on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in the Work of Public Officials. The Conflicts of Interest Law imposes restrictions and requirements on public officials and their relatives. Several provisions of the law deal with the previously widespread practice of holding several positions simultaneously, often in both the public and private sector. The law includes a comprehensive list of state and municipal jobs that cannot be combined with additional employment. Moreover, the law expanded the scope of the term state official to include members of boards and councils of companies with state or municipal capital exceeding 50 percent. Additionally, Latvia is a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (FRECO). In line with OECD and GRECO recommendations, the government is working to strengthen anti-corruption policy and enforcement while improving the functioning of the independent Corruption Prevention and Combatting Bureau (KNAB).
Under Latvian law, it is a crime to offer, accept, or facilitate a bribe. Although the law stipulates heavy penalties for bribery, a limited number of government officials have been prosecuted and convicted of corruption to date. The law also provides the possibility of withdrawing charges against a person giving a bribe in cases where the bribe has been extorted or in cases where the person voluntarily reports these incidents and actively assists the investigation. In addition, the Latvian government has adopted a whistleblower law that requires all government agencies and large companies to establish protocols to accept whistleblower disclosures and protect whistleblowers from reprisals.
KNAB is the institution with primary responsibility for preventing and combating corruption and carrying out enforcement activities in response to suspected or alleged corruption. It is subordinated to the Cabinet of Ministers and supervised by the Prime Minister.
KNAB has also established a Public Consultative Council to help increase public participation in implementing its anti-corruption policies, increasing public awareness, and strengthening connections between the agency and the public. More information is available at: https://www.knab.gov.lv/en/knab/consultative/public/. The Prosecutor General’s Office also plays an important role in fighting corruption.
There is a perceived lack of fairness and transparency in the public procurement process in Latvia. Several companies, including foreign companies, have complained that bidding requirements are sometimes written with the assistance of potential contractors or couched in terms that exclude all but preferred contractors.
A Cabinet of Ministers regulation provides for public access to government information, and the government generally provided citizens such access. There have been no reports the government has denied noncitizens or foreign media access to government information.
Contact at government agency responsible for combating corruption:
Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau
Citadeles iela 1, Riga, LV 1010, Latvia
+371 67356161 email@example.com
Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Delna (Latvian affiliate of Transparency International)
Citadeles iela 8, Riga, LV-1010
+371 67285585 firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Political and Security Environment
There have been no reports of political violence or politically motivated damage to foreign investors’ projects or installations. The likelihood of widespread civil disturbances is very low. While Latvia has experienced peaceful demonstrations related to political issues, there have been few incidents when these have devolved into crimes against property, such as breaking shop windows or damaging parked cars. U.S. citizens are cautioned to avoid any large public demonstrations since even peaceful demonstrations can turn confrontational. The Embassy provides periodic notices to U.S. citizens in Latvia, which can be found on the Embassy’s web site: https://lv.usembassy.gov/.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
The official rate of registered unemployment in January 2022, according to Eurostat, was 7.3 percent (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Unemployment_statistics). The Latvian State Employment Agency reported 6.9 percent unemployment at the end of January 2022. Unemployment is significantly higher in rural areas. A high percentage of the workforce has completed at least secondary or vocational education. Foreign managers praise the high degree of language skills, especially Russian and English, among Latvian workers. However, foreign managers have reported a shortage of mid- and senior-level managers with “Western” management skills.
One challenge employers have faced since Latvia joined the EU is that many skilled employees can find better employment opportunities in other EU countries. Unofficial statistics suggest that more than 240,000 people have moved from Latvia to other EU countries since May 1, 2004. Despite the fact that the macroeconomic situation has stabilized, skilled and unskilled workers continue to emigrate. The government is implementing a strategy to entice people who have left Latvia to return.
The Labor Law addresses discrimination issues, provides detailed provisions on the rights and obligations of employees’ representatives, and created the Conciliation Commission, a mechanism that can be used in the workplace to resolve labor disputes before going to arbitration. Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace can also submit a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman and the State Labor Inspectorate.
Full-time employees in Latvia work 40 hours a week. Normally, there are five working days per week, but employers may schedule a sixth workday without offering premium pay. Employees are entitled to four calendar weeks of annual paid vacation per year. Employers are prohibited from entering into an employment contract with a foreign individual who does not have a valid work permit.
Latvia is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and has ratified all eight ILO Core Conventions.
Latvia’s shadow economy – largely driven by undeclared wages and business earnings – continues to be a major challenge. The annual Stockholm School of Economics Riga “Shadow Economy Index” shows that in 2020 the shadow economy grew by 1.6 percentage points and reached 25.5 percent of GDP. The detailed report is available here: https://www.sseriga.edu/shadow-economy-index-baltic-countries.
Lithuania is strategically situated at the crossroads of Europe and Eurasia. It offers investors a diversified economy, EU rules and norms, a well-educated multilingual workforce, advanced IT infrastructure and a stable democratic government. The Lithuanian economy has been growing steadily since the 2009 economic crisis but contracted in 2020 due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it recovered relatively rapidly in 2021, reaching 5.1 percent GDP growth thanks to budget surpluses and accumulated financial reserves prior to the crisis, as well as a well-diversified economy. The country joined the Eurozone in January 2015 and completed the accession process for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in May 2018. Lithuania’s income levels are lower than in most of the EU. Based on the average net monthly wage, Lithuania is 23rd of 27 EU member states. According to Bank of Lithuania statistics, at the end of 2021, the United States was Lithuania’s 15th largest investor, with cumulative investments totaling $366 million (1.3 percent of total FDI).
The new government elected at the end of 2020 has continued prior governments’ efforts to improve the business climate and lower barriers to investment. In 2013, the government passed legislation which streamlined land-use planning, saving investors both time and money. In July 2017, the government introduced the new Labor Code which is believed to better balance the interests of both employees and employers, and in 2020 it introduced a law on exemption of profit tax for the period of up to 20 years for large and significant investment to the country.
The government provides equal treatment to foreign and domestic investors and sets few limitations on their activities. Foreign investors have the right to repatriate or reinvest profits without restriction and can bring disputes to the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Lithuania offers special incentives, such as tax concessions, to both small companies and strategic investors. Incentives are also available in seven Special Economic Zones located throughout the country.
U.S. executives report some burdensome procedures to obtain business and residence permits, and limited instances of low-level corruption in government. Transportation barriers, especially insufficient direct air links with some European cities, remain a hindrance to investment, as does the lack of transparency in government procurement.
Lithuania offers many investment opportunities in most of its economy sectors. The sectors which to date attracted most investment include Information and Communication Technology, Biotech, Metal Processing, Machinery and Electrical Equipment, Plastics, Furniture, Wood Processing and Paper Industry, Textiles and Clothing. Lithuania also offers opportunities for investment in the growing sectors of Real Estate and Construction, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Shared Services, Financial Technologies, Biotech and Lasers.
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Lithuania’s laws ensure equal protection for both foreign and domestic investors. No special permit is required from government authorities to invest foreign capital in Lithuania. State institutions have no right to interfere with the legal possession of foreign investors’ property. In the event of justified expropriation, investors are entitled to compensation equivalent to the market value of the property expropriated. The law obligates state institutions and officials to keep commercial secrets confidential and requires compensation for any loss or damage caused by illegal disclosure. As a member of European Union, Lithuania is subject to WTO investment requirements. Invest Lithuania is the government’s principal institution dedicated to attracting foreign investment. It serves as a one-stop-shop to: provide information on business costs, labor, tax and legal considerations, and other business concerns; facilitate the set up and launch of a company; provide help in accessing government financial support; and advocate on behalf of investors for more business friendly laws. In addition to its offices in Vilnius and major Lithuanian cities, Invest Lithuania has representative offices in Germany and the United Kingdom. The government is also expanding its network of commercial representatives, with an attaché appointed to serve at the Consulate General in Los Angeles in 2021 and new postings planned for in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Every year the government holds a conference with foreign investors to discuss their concerns and ways to improve investment climate in Lithuania.
Foreign investors have the right to repatriate profits, income, or dividends, in cash or otherwise, or to reinvest the same without any limitation, after paying taxes. The law establishes no limits on foreign ownership or control. Foreign investors have free access to all sectors of the economy with some limited exceptions:
The Law on Investment prohibits investment of foreign capital in sectors related to the security and defense of the State.
The Law on Investment also requires government permission and licensing for commercial activities that may pose risks to human life, health, or the environment, including the manufacturing of, or trade in, weapons.
As of 2014, foreign citizens are allowed to buy agricultural or forest land.
The Law on Investment specifically permits the following forms of investment in Lithuania:
establishment of an enterprise or acquisition of a part, or the whole, of the authorized capital of an operating enterprise registered in Lithuania;
acquisition of securities of any type;
creation, acquisition, and increase in the value of long-term assets;
lending of funds or other assets to business entities in which the investor owns a stake, allowing control or considerable influence over the company; and
performance of concession or leasing agreements.
Foreign entities are allowed to establish branches or representative offices. There are no limits on foreign ownership or control. Foreign investors can contribute capital in the form of money, assets, or intellectual or industrial property rights. The State Property Bank screens the performance record and size of companies bidding on state or municipal property and has halted privatizations when it determined that the bidders were not suitable, i.e., for criminal or other reasons.
The Lithuanian parliament most recently updated its 2002 law on the Protection of Objects Important to National Security in 2018. The law is aimed at enforcing additional safeguards to avoid threats related to investments into companies of strategic national importance, thus requiring a special government commission to screen investments in identified strategic sectors.
Check and reserve the name of the company (limited liability company). It takes about one day and costs approximately $18.
Register at the Company Register, including registration with State Tax Inspectorate (the Lithuanian Revenue Authority) for corporate tax, VAT, and State Social Insurance Fund Board (SODRA). It takes one day and costs approximately $64.
Complete VAT registration. It takes three days to complete at no charge.
The Lithuanian government neither incentivizes nor restricts outward investment.
3. Legal Regime
The regulatory system remains a challenge for some investors. Local business leaders report that bureaucratic procedures often are not user-friendly and that the interpretation of regulations is inconsistent and unclear. Businesses and private individuals complain of low-level, but non-systemic corruption, including in the process of awarding government contracts and the granting of licenses and permits. Businesses also note that they would like to have more opportunity to consult with lawmakers regarding new legislation and that new legislation sometimes appears with little advance notice. Public procurement is overseen by the national procurement supervising authority and has a strong reporting system to monitor its activities, making it largely transparent. Nevertheless, problems persist in practice, as some bids are released with technical irregularities and many winning vendors are selected based primarily on price over the quality of the product.
However, the government continues to improve transparency. A new anti-corruption law came into effect in 2022 which codified the responsibilities of public institutions to enforce stricter standards of openness and transparency and established a network of trained anti-corruption officials. For example, the parliament’s website contains all draft legislation, and public tenders must be published electronically in a central database. Ministries also post draft laws under consideration. In March 2014, Transparency International released a report recommending new laws aimed at protecting whistle-blowers, encouraging lobbying transparency, preventing and controlling conflicts of interest, and increasing transparency in political party funding. Some of the recommendations have already been addressed by introducing a whistleblower protection law and a new law on lobbying in 2017. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report ranked Lithuania 11th out of 190 in 2020. Lithuania scored especially high in the categories of Registering Property (4th), Enforcing contracts (7th) Dealing with Construction Permits (10th) and Starting a Business (34th). It did less well in the categories of Resolving Insolvency (89th) and Getting Credit (48th).
Since May 1, 2004, in accordance with its European Union membership, Lithuania has applied European Union trade policies, such as antidumping or anti-subsidy measures. The European Union import regime applies to Lithuania. The country is a member of the WTO and it notifies all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.
The Lithuanian legal system stems from the legal traditions of continental Europe and complies with the EU’s acquis communautaire. New laws enter into force upon promulgation by the President (or in some cases the Speaker of the parliament) and publication in the official gazette, ValstybesZinios (State News). Several possibilities exist for commercial dispute resolution. Parties can settle disputes in local courts or in the increasingly popular independent, i.e., non-governmental, Commercial Court of Arbitration. Lithuania also recognizes arbitration judgments by foreign courts. Domestic courts generally operate independently of government influence. Lithuania’s EU membership has given foreign firms the additional right to appeal adverse court rulings to the European Court of Justice.
The Lithuanian court system consists of courts of general jurisdiction that deal with civil and criminal matters, and includes the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, District Courts, and local courts. In 1999, Lithuania established a system of administrative courts to adjudicate administrative cases, which generally involve disputes between government regulatory agencies and individuals or organizations. The administrative court system consists of the High Administrative Court and District Administrative Courts.
The Constitutional Court of Lithuania is a separate, independent judicial body that determines whether laws and legal acts adopted by the parliament, president, and the government violate the Constitution.
Lithuanian law provides that foreign entities may establish branches or representative offices, and there are no limits on foreign ownership or control. A foreigner may hold a majority interest in a local company in Lithuania. However, there are some areas of the economy where investment is limited, such as in sectors related to national security and defense of the State, and licensing is necessary for activities related to human life and health, or which are deemed potentially risky. The national investment promotion agency Invest Lithuania provides a detailed overview of the relevant laws and regulations on foreign investment. http://www.investlithuania.com
There is a domestic Competition Council, which is responsible for the prevention of competition law violations. For more information: https://kt.gov.lt/en/
Lithuanian law permits expropriation on the basis of public need, but requires compensation at fair market value in a convertible currency. The law requires payment of compensation within three months of the date of expropriation in the currency the foreign investor requests. The compensation must include interest calculated from the date of publication of the notice of expropriation until the payment of compensation. The recipient may transfer this compensation abroad without any restrictions. There have been no cases of expropriation of private property by the Lithuanian government since 1991. There is an ongoing process to restitute property expropriated during World War II and the Soviet occupation. While the Lithuanian government passed a law in 2011 providing for the restitution of communal property, it has not passed legislation to address the restitution of private and heirless property seized during the Holocaust.
Lithuania passed the current Enterprise Bankruptcy Law in 2001. This law applies to all enterprises, public establishments, commercial banks, and other credit institutions registered in Lithuania. The law provides a mechanism to override the provisions of other laws regulating enterprise activities, assuring protection of creditors’ rights, recovery of debts, and payment of taxes and other mandatory contributions to the State. This law establishes the following order of creditors’ claims: claims by creditors that are secured by a mortgage/pledge of debtor; claims related to employment; tax, social insurance, and state medical insurance claims; claims arising from loans guaranteed or issued on behalf of the Republic of Lithuania or its government; and other claims. Bankruptcy can be criminalized in cases of intentional bankruptcy. The Law on the Bankruptcy of Natural Persons was introduced in Lithuania in 2013. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey ranks Lithuania 89th in the category of “resolving insolvency”.
4. Industrial Policies
The Lithuanian government taxes corporate income and capital gains at 15 percent and the personal income tax rate is 20 percent. The value added tax is 21 percent, and the annual real estate tax ranges from 0.3 to three percent, depending on the market value of a property. For more details, please visit https://investlithuania.com/investor-guide/running-your-business/
Lithuanian municipalities provide special incentives to investors who create jobs or invest in infrastructure. Municipalities may tie designation criteria to additional factors, such as the number of jobs created or environmental benefits. Strategic investors’ benefits could include favorable tax incentives for up to ten years. Municipalities may grant special incentives to induce investments in municipal infrastructure, manufacturing, and services.
Lithuania has seven Free Economic Zones (FEZs) located near the cities of Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Kedainiai, Panevėžys, Akmenė, and Marijampolė. The FEZs in Kaunas and Klaipėda have attracted the most business; there are about one hundred companies from 18 countries operating in the Klaipėda FEZ, and 38 in the Kaunas FEZ. Companies operating in FEZs must follow the same accounting and reporting rules as companies operating in the rest of the country.
Companies that invest or are operating within the zones enjoy:
six years’ exemption from corporate income tax and a 50 percent reduction during the
exemption from real estate tax;
no tax on foreign company dividends.
In January 2017, the parliament passed legislation providing for a Startup Visa, designed for non-EU entrepreneurs wishing to start or expand information technology, biotech, nanotech, mechatronics, electronics, or laser technology businesses. For more information on the new Startup Visa, visit: https://startupvisalithuania.com/Lithuania also participates in the EU BlueCard program, which simplifies the residency and work permit application process for highly-skilled non-EU citizens. Once secured, the BlueCard is valid for up to three years and can be extended for an additional three years. BlueCard holders are also eligible to apply for permanent residency after five years. For more information on the BlueCard program, visit: http://www.eubluecard.lt/.
Nevertheless, foreign investors that do not qualify for these programs, including U.S. citizens, may face difficulties obtaining and renewing residency permits. U.S. citizens can stay in Lithuania no more than 90 days without a visa (and no more than 90 days in any six-month period). Those who stay longer face fines and deportation. However, foreigners may only submit residency permit applications after they arrive in Lithuania. Therefore, the Embassy recommends applicants work with Lithuanian embassies and consulates to review documentation required for a permit well in advance of their first visit to Lithuania. For more information on the various types of visas and their requirements, visit:https://www.migracija.lt/en/search?q=visas
Lithuania provides special incentives to strategic investors. The criteria by which the national government or a municipality designates a strategic investor vary from project to project. In general, the national government requires that a strategic investor initially invests $50 million or more. Municipalities may tie the designation criteria to additional or other factors, such as the number of jobs created and the environmental benefits that accrue. Strategic investors’ rewards include special business conditions, such as favorable tax incentives for up to ten years. Significant tax incentives apply to foreign investments made before 1997. Municipalities may grant special incentives to induce investments in municipal infrastructure, manufacturing, and services.
The Lithuanian government does not follow “forced Localization” policy and foreign investors can use domestic and foreign content in goods or technology alike. As a member of the European Union, Lithuania follows the General Data Protection Regulation. Enforcement is carried out by the State Data Protection Inspectorate. Foreign IT providers are not required to turn over source code and/or provide access to the encryption.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Lithuanian law protects foreign investments and the rights of investors in several ways:
The Constitution and the Law on Foreign Capital Investment protect all forms of private
International agreements, such as the 1958 New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, offer protection.
Bilateral agreements with the United States and other western countries on the mutual
The Law on Capital Investment in Lithuania and other acts regulate customs duties, taxes, and relationships with financial and inspection authorities. This law also establishes dispute settlement procedures.
In the event of justified expropriation, applicable law entitles investors to compensation
Foreign investors may defend their rights under the Washington Convention of 1965 by
State institutions and officials are obligated to keep commercial secrets confidential and must pay compensation for any loss or damage caused by illegal disclosure. Lithuania legalized the possibility of hiring private bailiffs to enforce court judgments in 2003.
Lithuania’s commercial laws conform to EU requirements, and include the principles of the free establishment of companies, protection of shareholders’ and creditors’ rights, free access to information, and registration procedures. Relevant laws include: the Company Law and Law on Partnerships (2004), the Law on Personal Enterprises (2004), the Law on Investments (1999), the Law on Bankruptcy of Enterprises (2001), and the Law on Restructuring of Enterprises (2001). The Civil Code of 2000 governs commercial guarantees and security instruments. It provides for the following types of guarantee and security instruments to secure fulfillment of contractual obligations: forfeiture, surety, guarantee, earnest money, pledge, and mortgage.
Lithuania has significantly improved its intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in recent years, and members of the innovation community report that IPR infringement and theft is infrequent. Lithuania joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2002 and is party to many of its treaties, including the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Lithuania joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and so is party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Following EU accession, Lithuania extended protection to member states’ trademarks and designs. Lithuania brought its national law protecting biological inventions into compliance with EU Directive 98/44 in June 2005.
In 2008, Lithuania was removed from USTR’s Special 301 Watch List and is not currently included in the Notorious Markets List.
For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IPR offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.
Government policies do not interfere with the free flow of financial resources or the allocation of credit. In 1994, Lithuania accepted the requirements of Article VIII of the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund to liberalize all current payments and to establish non-discriminatory currency agreements. Lithuania ensures the free movement of capital and does not plan to impose any restrictions. The government imposes no restrictions on credits related to commercial transactions or the provision of services, or on financial loans and credits. Non-residents may open accounts with commercial banks.
The banking system is stable, well-regulated, and conforms to EU standards. Currently there are 12 commercial banks holding a license from the Bank of Lithuania, six foreign bank branches, two foreign bank representative offices, the Central Credit Union of Lithuania and 65 credit unions. Two hundred-eighty EU banks provide cross-border services in Lithuania without a branch operating in the country, and three financial institutions controlled by EU licensed foreign banks provide services without a branch. Nearly all foreign banks are headquartered in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. By the end of 2021 the total assets of major Lithuanian banks were $45.4 billion:
Effective January 1, 2015, all of the banks are controlled by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Lithuania. There is no restriction on portfolio investment. The right of ownership to shares acquired through automatically matched trades is transferred on the third working day following the conclusion of the transaction. The Vilnius Stock Exchange is part of the OMX group of exchanges and offers access to 80 percent of all securities trading in the Nordic and Baltic marketplace. OMX is owned by the U.S. firm NASDAQ and the Dubai Bourse. The supervisory service at the Bank of Lithuania oversees commercial banks and credit unions, securities market, and insurance companies. Lithuanian law does not regulate hostile takeovers.
Like much of the rest of the world, rising inflation driven by high global energy prices is a concern in Lithuania. Lithuania experienced 12.4% year-over-year inflation in January 2022, the highest in the EU.
Lithuania does not maintain any Sovereign Wealth Funds.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
At the beginning of 2021, the Lithuanian government was majority or full owner of 46 enterprises. Throughout 2017, the government consolidated many duplicative state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in response to OECD recommendations reducing the number of its companies from 130. The SOE sector is valued at approximately $5.8 billion and employs just over 42,000 people. The greatest number of SOEs by value are found in the electricity and gas sector (38%), followed by transportation (36%) and extractive industries including fishing, farming, and mining (21%). The transportation sector (which in Lithuania’s definition includes the postal service) accounts for over half of all SOE employment, followed by the electricity and gas sectors, which accounts for about one fifth. The largest SOE employers are Lithuanian Railways, Ignitis Group, and Lithuanian Post, which collectively employ over 23,000 people.
In response to OECD recommendations issued during Lithuania’s accession process, the government passed several laws to reform SOE governance, addressing such issues as the hiring, firing, and oversight of top management, the introduction of independent board members to professionalize and depoliticize SOE boards and strengthen independent and pragmatic decision making, and a requirement for SOE CEOs to certify financial statements.
The government has privatized most state enterprises and property, with foreign investors purchasing the majority of state assets privatized since 1990. These include companies in the banking and transportation sectors. Some foreign companies have complained about a lack of transparency or discrimination in certain privatization transactions. Major assets still under government control include the railway company (Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai), Lithuania’s three international airports (Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda), Lithuanian post (Lietuvos Pastas), as well as energy companies controlled by Ignitis Group holding company.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Although Lithuania has a strong private sector, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is still relatively new in Lithuania. However, over the past few years many companies, especially those in Vilnius, have developed more robust CSR programs. There are an increasing number of private-public partnerships and social projects where the private sector is involved in supporting volunteerism, environmental restoration, and scholarships. Furthermore, successful participation in the European Union market requires higher standards of CSR. Foreign investors in Lithuania have played a very important role in promoting CSR. In 2009, the government developed and approved a National Corporate Social Responsibility Development Program aimed at promoting CSR. Also, in the past few years there has been growing interest from both government and NGOs in promoting CSR values by organizing competitions and awards ceremonies such as the Social and Labor Ministry’s annual Socially Responsible Business Awards Ceremony, Confederation of Industrialists’ Awards, and others. Also, after Lithuania acceded to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2017, more business organizations and the legal community have started to promote the importance of companies adopting anti-bribery compliance programs.
Implementation of Lithuania’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for 2021-2030 will require approximately EUR 14 billion. Most of the funds, around EUR 10.8 billion, will be used to implement the national energy independence objectives and Lithuania’s EU commitments on mitigating the impact on climate change. The NECP provides for the construction of resilient road surfaces, more resilient electricity infrastructure, and rainwater management. It subsidizes agricultural insurance and organic and climate-resilient farming. The NECP also includes measures on public health, management of extreme weather events, forestry, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Most of these funds will come from the EU and the national budget.
Lithuania together with Denmark, Estonia, Spain, and Portugal, is among the five countries in the EU with the most ambitious renewable energy targets for 2030. By building interconnections with the Western European electricity system, converting district heating systems to the use of biofuels, approving additional auctions for the production of solar and wind electricity, and by promoting prosumer (consumers who both produce and consume electricity) policies, Lithuania projects that 45% of its electricity will come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
Conservation is also an element of Lithuania’s efforts to reduce emissions. Lithuania aims to reduce its energy consumption by one-fifth by 2030 through a combination of renovating public and residential buildings, promoting energy efficiency in industry and services, and promoting sustainable mobility. These efforts will also contribute to Lithuania’s national security objective of reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels.
By 2030, the government projects that 70% of rail freight will be transported by electric trains and 14% of passenger cars will be electric. This will lead to a drop in Lithuania’s total fuel consumption by 24% and reduce the country’s dependency on imported fuel. The government also projects that the use of cleaner technologies by Lithuanian industry and reductions in the use of mineral fertilizers will lead to an 8 hectare per year increase in forest growth. The government also plans to improve efficiency in agricultural production and hopes to bring down the use of energy and production resources in agriculture by 20% by 2030.
According to the NECP, the implementation of all the planned measures by 2030 will reduce GHG emissions by: 8.1% in the transport sector, 9.1% in agriculture, 9.8% in industry, and 52.4% in the waste sector.
A 2019 Eurobarometer study on Businesses’ attitudes towards corruption in the EU shows that corruption is becoming less of an obstacle for business in Lithuania. Only 15 percent of business executives identified corruption as a problem in Lithuania, twice fewer than in 2015. Out of 27 EU countries, Lithuania was ranked seventh for corruption being the least pressing issue in business. Additionally, the Lithuanian Map of Corruption 2019 survey initiated by the Special Investigations Service (STT) – Lithuania’s anti-corruption law enforcement agency – also showed the positive anti-corruption trends in business environment over the past decades. However, nepotism and cronyism – hiring relatives and friends – are still the most prevalent forms of corruption that hinder business development.
More than 50 governmental institutions regulate commerce in one way or another, creating opportunities for corrupt practices. Large foreign investors report few problems with corruption. On the contrary, most large investors report that high-level officials are often very helpful in solving problems fairly. In general, foreign investors say that corruption is not a significant obstacle to doing business in Lithuania and describe most of the bureaucrats they deal with in Lithuania as reasonable and fair. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) perceive themselves as more vulnerable to petty bureaucrats and commonly complain about extortion. SMEs often complain that excessive red tape virtually requires the payment of “grease money” to obtain permits promptly. Business owners maintain that some government officials, on the other hand, view SMEs as likely tax-cheats and smugglers, and treat the owners and managers accordingly.
Paying or accepting a bribe is a criminal act. Lithuania established in 1997 the Special Investigation Service (Specialiujų Tyrimų Tarnyba) specifically to fight public sector corruption. The agency investigates approximately 100 cases of alleged corruption every year. The STT has a strong track record in investigating and prosecuting corruption cases, but has identified corruption prevention as an area for improvement, which Lithuania’s new anti-corruption law that entered into effect in 2022 aims to address. The law codifies the responsibilities of public institutions to enforce stricter standards of openness and transparency. The law also establishes a network of trained anti-corruption officials throughout all levels and areas of government, implements stricter personnel screening procedures, and standardizes metrics to measure anti-corruption performance.
Transparency International (TI)has a national chapter in Lithuania. TI ranked Lithuania 34th out of 180 in its 2021 Perceptions of Corruption Index with a score of 61 out of 100 (TI considers countries with a score below 50 to have serious problems with corruption.). Medical personnel and local government officials, among others, were cited by TI as prone to corruption.
Lithuania ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2006 and acceded to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2017.
Resources to Report Corruption
Special Investigation Service
Jakšto g. 6, 01105 Vilnius, Lithuania
Sergejus Muravjovas, Executive Director
Didžioji st. 5, LT–01128, Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 370 5 212 69 51 email@example.com | skype: ti_lithuania
10. Political and Security Environment
Since its independence in 1991, Lithuania has not witnessed any incidents involving politically motivated damage to projects and/or installations.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Lithuanian labor is relatively inexpensive compared to Western Europe. However, employment regulations are often stricter than those in other EU countries, according to some foreign investors. By law, white-collar workers have a 40-hour workweek. Blue-collar workers have a 48-hour workweek with premium pay for overtime. Maternity leave in Lithuania is granted for up to 126 days, and the government compensates 100 percent of the mother’s salary. A father is also allowed to take paternity leave for one month. His salary is compensated 100 percent as well. Sick leave in Lithuania is granted up to 14 days at any one time and no more than 90 days a year. For the first two days, the salary compensation is 80 – 100 percent, paid by the employer, with the rest of the days being compensated by SODRA (Lithuanian Social Security body) at 80 percent of salary. Lithuania is a member of International Labor Organization (ILO) and has ratified its core conventions.
The government adjusts the monthly minimum wage periodically. Since January 2022, Lithuania’s minimum monthly wage is $817. The average monthly wage is $1,880.
The ability of Lithuanians to work legally in EU countries generated a sizable outflow of labor, causing a domestic shortage of skilled construction workers, truck drivers, shop assistants, medical nurses, and medical specialists. In March, 2021 unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent.
Lithuania’s management-labor relations are good. Labor unions are not considered overly influential in Lithuania, according to some foreign investors. More than half of workers at Lithuanian fertilizer firm Achema went on strike in February 2022 in the first major strike since 1991. The primary dispute was over the signing of a collective bargaining agreement with management on wages and other conditions. .
Lithuania has one of the best-educated workforces in Central and Eastern Europe. Lithuania ranks fourth among the EU states in terms of population with higher education and first in the Baltic States. Lithuania is one of the five EU members with the highest percentage of people speaking at least one foreign language. Ninety percent of Lithuanians can speak at least one other language – usually English, Polish, and/or Russian – apart from their mother tongue.
Major Lithuanian companies specializing in IT, biotechnology, and laser technology cooperate closely with the leading Lithuanian technological universities, which provide companies with R&D services and offer students specialized on-the-job training programs. This way companies are able to attract a large number of qualified specialists for both local and international projects. Some technology companies, however, have noted challenges in finding highly- skilled workers with advanced technical degrees.
In 2017, the parliament passed a new Labor Code. These changes aim to encourage foreign investment and job creation by simplifying some employment conditions and clarifying other requirements. The new law decreases the advanced notice required when employers terminate an employment contract, and adds new contract options for employers, such as project-based contracts and job-sharing contracts. The law also clarifies previous informal practices by requiring non-union employers to form works councils to represent employee interests and requiring employers to establish and publicize standard company compensation policies.
14. Contact for more Information
Jonas Vasilevicius, Commercial Specialist
Tel: 370-5 2665671 VasileviciusJ@state.gov
U.S. Embassy Vilnius
Akmenu str. 6