Lithuania’s two major free economic zones (FEZs) have received a number of awards from fDi Intelligence in its Global Free Zones of the Year 2017 rankings, including for the fastest launch time globally and for offering top conditions in Europe for SMEs. These awards are recognition of the broad, sustained efforts made by the Lithuanian government to offer foreign investors the best possible conditions for set up and scaling.
Thanks to a range of recent initiatives – including introducing the fastest FinTech licencing by a central bank in Europe and Europe’s first crowdfunding and ridesharing laws – Lithuania already has a proven track record for being a fast, flexible and open investment location. And it’s this business-friendly mind-set that has brought recognition from fDi Intelligence, a specialist division of the FT that offers services related to foreign direct investment.
fDi Intelligence’s first ever Quick Launch Award went to Klaipėda Free Economic Zone, while in the SMEs category, Kaunas Free Economic Zone was highly commended for Europe. These were the highlights of numerous awards Lithuanian FEZs picked up in this year’s rankings.
Eimantas Kiudulas, the CEO of Klaipėda FEZ, says fDi Intelligence’s award is recognition of the excellent conditions created thanks to both a long-term strategy and to concrete steps taken to ensure fast set up for prospective investors and quick scaling opportunities for those already established.
“We already have a working scheme with pre-approved construction permits that opens doors for project launch in 6 months, in addition to readily available warehouses and offices for lease,” says Mr Kiudulas. “And now we’re proud to take our speed-priority another step further with our FlexStart project – a €3 million investment into a universal, 6,000 sq m building that will cut launch time down to 3 months. This facility will be ready for 4-6 investors by midsummer 2018. This project is the first of its kind in the Baltics and Poland, and it will add to the competitive advantage we already offer. Speed of launch is becoming the foremost criterion for investors when choosing a location,” Mr Kiudulas concludes.
Vytautas Petružis, CEO of Kaunas FEZ, agrees that establishment speed is a key requirement from many investors, and explains that for this reason a lot of attention has been dedicated to this area.
“Many efforts have neem made, both by the Kaunas FEZ management company and the Lithuanian government, to make establishment as convenient as possible,” Mr Petružis points out. “Investment into infrastructure plus changes in legislation mean some companies have been able to establish operations in our territory in just 11 months. For example, the French delivery giant DPD began construction of their parcel sorting terminal in October 2013, and in September 2014 it was already in operation. This process would have taken at least twice as long outside the Kaunas FEZ territory,” says Mr Petružis.
Lithuania currently ranks 21st globally in the Doing Business index and 41st in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness report (both rankings for 2017). Major foreign investors in Lithuania include the likes of Barclay’s, General Electric, Hella, Hollister, Continental and many others.
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