The Baltic States: the similarities
The Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia – are three countries in Northern Europe that also cooperate on a regional level in intergovernmental organisations.
In institutional terms, this means memberships of - above all - Western organisations. They signed up to the EU, NATO and the Eurozone (Lithuania was the most recent country to join last year). Estonia is an OECD country, Latvia aims to become one this year, and Lithuania hope to follow soon.
The three Baltic States seem to have a clear governmental strategy: almost every decision of theirs leans towards the West as a safeguard against the East.
Estonia has the lowest government debt as a proportion of GDP in the EU (only about 10 per cent).
Their values constitute freedom, independence, democracy, capitalism, liberalism, security and budgetary discipline. This makes the Baltic States strong allies of the UK. They share our values of open-markets, free-trade, competition, innovation, good governance and the rule of law. They also value their like-minded alliance of the Scandinavians and Iceland.
They look to London as the hub city of northern Europe.
They are small countries. Estonia, with the smallest number of people, has a population comparable to Devon. But they are open and receptive markets.
The Baltic States: the differences
Even though, they are always grouped together the differences between the Baltic States should not be disregarded.
Estonia’s population is the smallest (1.3m) with the greatest GDP; Latvia is in the middle in population size (2.1m) and wealth per capita, and Lithuania has the most people (2.9m) but the lowest per capita.
They joined the Eurozone in north-south order: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They are joining the OECD in the same order.
Estonia and Latvia are Protestant countries; Lithuania is Catholic. Estonia in particular looks north, often regarding Finland as their natural partner. Latvia is the biggest trading corridor for Russian goods, which has economic and security implications. Lithuania often looks south to Poland and into central Europe.
Estonia sees itself as being the most modern, inspired by FinTech and technology-based wealth creation.
Lithuania has a general enthusiasm and interest in London’s financial centre – there is a City of London Lithuanian Association.
Opportunities and overarching facts in the Baltic States
- The countries are domination by Scandinavian banks – the economy is predominantly bank-based financing.
- The Nordic Baltic region could provide investment potential.
- There is a lack of skilled workforce and a need for vocational education in the states.
- They are in support of an open market and TTIP.
- There is a strong overall support for the UK to remain in the EU.
Read more about how to practice in Lithuania.