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  • Jim Fanshawe

Working with the Baltics

I've always enjoyed developing export markets in the Baltics. Maybe I'm biased. My first ever export sales trip, as a young, rather innocent and inexperienced export executive in my 20s, was to Lithuania. As it was my first ever overseas work trip the excitement for me was palpable. As this was in the 1990's Lithuania was obviously not a member of the EU (It joined on 1st May 2004) which only added to the interest for me. Since that time I have been back to Lithuania and the Baltics as a whole many many times on behalf of various British companies. It is fair to say I have had considerable success there, finding, appointing and developing distributors. It hasn't always been easy, but what of any interest is?

So why am I writing about these three countries now?

Yes I know they have small populations but as we all know there are so many factors involved in selecting your target export markets. Population is only one element. Of far greater importance (in most cases) is how active the economy is, how active your particular sector is, how bureaucratic the market is, how open to imported products the people are, what the innovation is like, how forward thinking people are - I could go on but it's best that you talk to us about setting your market selection criteria if you want a fuller picture on that. Suffice to say the Baltic countries score very highly in all these categories and more.

So here's a very quick snapshot of the Baltic countries to set the scene a little...

For European countries in recent years they're showing pretty solid economic growth.

But this is just a snapshot. You need to dive a bit deeper into the activity in your particular sector. There is plenty of information out there on which you can make a sound decision as to whether or not your sector is particularly active.

As a rough indication the headline sectors include:

Estonia - Cyber Security, Offshore wind energy, renewable energy, healthcare, rail, industrial automation and R&D, Food and Drink.

Oh and Estonia came 1st in the OECD Tax competitiveness index in 2019!

Latvia - Rail, Construction (ports, airports, roads), Renewable energy, Education, Cybersecurity, AI, Metalworking, Woodworking, Food Processing, Healthcare.

Lithuania - Construction (infrastructure, rail, ports), Renewables, R&D (tech sectors), Business Services, ICT, Automotive, Industrial automation, Aviation (maintenance, repair, operation), Electric Vehical batteries.

So you've worked out the economy is good, your sector is active and growing, what next? Work out your route to market and think about the type of overseas partner you want to work with. There is plenty of support available too. Your Export Department would obviously love to help you break into these markets and there is also great support from bilateral Chambers of Commerce amongst others. Get in touch and we'll put together a plan for you.

And remember, size of market isn't everything. These are markets that you can make real long lasting progress in and markets that are open and receptive to British business. You have to be dedicated and prepared to put in the time and effort to develop the relationships but flights there are low cost and regular so what is holding you back? Go for it.!

Let's export more and get into the Baltics!

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