The Business Investment Forum, held in Druskininkai on 24 January 2013, brought together some fifty business people, lawyers, real estate specialists and consultants, both local and from Belarus, to share insights about investment and business development opportunities in Lithuania. The Forum acknowledged that an excellent geographical location, favourable legislative framework, educated labour force, and real estate offering a high potential return are major factors for attracting investments and for business immigration. It is expected that the latter will be enhanced by means of adopting measures to achieve higher efficiency at Lithuania-Belarus border, discussed at the meeting of Lithuanian industrialists and carriers earlier this month.
According to Maksimas Saveljevas, Managing Associate at the law offices COBALT, Lithuania is attractive for investors from the neighbouring Belarus as the nearest gateway to the European Economic Area, uniting 30 countries, the unified market, and the customs union. Registered in Lithuania and established with investments from Belarus, a company has all opportunities to effectively take advantage of free movement of capital, products and services in other countries of the European Economic Area, regardless of the origin of the capital invested in the company. 'Many international bilateral contracts between Lithuania and Belarus enable Belarusian entrepreneurs to do business in Lithuania in a flexible manner,'- stated Mr Saveljevas. Cooperation between Lithuania and Belarus is regulated by the Agreement on the promotion and protection of investments, the Convention for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income,agreements on social security, on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family and criminal matters, and other agreements.
Cooperation with Lithuania also provides Belarusian entrepreneurs with other opportunities to manage and increase their capital: in addition to formation of companies, they also acquire Lithuanian companies and invest in funds and financial instruments. According to Alius Jakubėlis, Director of Orion Securities, Belarusian investors are facing many restrictions within their country, which impede the movement of capital; therefore, it is becoming particularly difficult to achieve a positive return on investment. 'We offer investment opportunities for Belarusians not only in Lithuania, but also worldwide by providing them with free access to markets and financial instruments all over the world,' commented Alius Jakubėlis.
The Forum also discussed the recovering Lithuanian real estate market, which offered attractive investment opportunities in 2012. According to Audrius Šešplaukis, Head of Valuation Department atInreal, the most promising regions of the country are the capital city Vilnius and the resorts, where 96 per cent of Lithuania’s new real estate projects were launched last year. 'The number of purchasers in those cities is increasing. In 2012 the number of apartments sold in Vilnius was 21 per cent higher, and in the sea resorts – even twice as high as in 2011. The average sales prices have remained stable so far; consequently, today customers can easily generate net cash flows of 5-6 per cent from rent, and in a long term perspective to profit on price increase,'- said Mr Šešplaukis.
'Convenient, fast and simple company formation procedures, an attractive tax system, state-of-the-art information and communication technologies, educated, honest and diligent people mastering a few foreign languages, world-class cultural life, and unique, beautiful nature – these are the factors, inviting to use Lithuania as a stepping stone for expanding business into EU Member States and also promoting business immigration,' stated Ramona Laurinkienė, in-house lawyer at Amicorp Baltic.