External environment in the Baltic states and Ukraine


Many significant changes took place in Lithuania last year. For some sectors whose situation in 2015 was less positive, 2016 turned out to be a much better year, while in other sectors the situation deteriorated. Therefore, the economy as a whole recorded only a small growth rate – according to the publication of the Bank of Lithuania, the GDP growth amounted to 2.2% year-on-year, mainly due to improved export situation. Significant changes were noticeable also on the labor market. Employment grew, but the market lacks skilled workers, which is why the pressure on salaries remains quite strong.

In contrast to the previous year, inflation in 2016 was positive, was amounted to 0.9%. According to forecast it will amount to 1.9% in 2017. Just as in the previous years, the dynamics of prices will be determined mainly by the changing global trends in commodity prices. Global prices of energy sources had been falling until the beginning of 2016 when the trend reversed and they began to grow again. In 2016, food prices in Lithuania indicated a slight growing trend, and they are expected to continue rising. This year, the base inflation, which includes the prices of services and industrial goods, was higher than the headline inflation; however, in contrast to the previous two years, their growth was halted.


The projection of the GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 amounted to 0.8%. The weaker growth of the Latvian economy is a result of a significant decline in investment. The main reason for the fall in investment is an investment gap in the structural measures of the European Union, which leads to, among others, the lower level of residential construction and infrastructure construction. Despite a slow growth of remuneration, the domestic consumption remains stable. In the first ten months of 2016, export declined by 1.7% year- on-year, mainly due to the negative impact of lower exports of mineral products, mechanical and electrical equipment, metal products, and textiles. The decline in export and increase in import had a negative impact on the trade balance for 10 months of 2016.

The inflation rate in 2016 grew faster than expected – 2.2% year-on-year. Changes in oil prices and rising food prices had the biggest influence on the increase in inflation. The situation on the labor market has been improving over the last few years, which had a positive impact on economic growth in general – the unemployment rate is gradually decreasing, and the employment rate is increasing.


According to preliminary estimates of the Estonian Statistical Office, in 2016, the Estonian economy recorded a 1.6% GDP growth year-on-year and 2.7% growth in fourth quarter. So far, the increase was driven mainly by domestic demand. The situation changed in the third quarter, in which export became more important driver of growth. Further significant remuneration increases, high employment rate and more optimism resulted in households being both more able and more willing to increase their consumer spending.

The decline in consumer prices, which started in 2014, continued in the first half of 2016. In the third quarter, prices began to rise year-on-year as a result of the end of earlier declines in energy prices. At the same time, the full impact of tax changes introduced at the beginning of 2016 began to be noticeable, which increased the inflation to 1.0% until September. The change in consumer price index (CPI) amounted to 0.1% year-on-year (-0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2015). The year-on-year change in the consumer price index was influenced mainly by alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. The unemployment rate remains stable, at 6.8% in 2016 (6.4% in 2015).


After two years of recession, 2016 brought the first signs of improving economic and political situation. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Ukraine’s GDP grew by 4.7% compared with the corresponding period in 2015. In 2016, the index of industrial production grew by 2.4% compared with previous year. The inflation increased by 12.4% in December of 2016 compared with December 2015. It should also be noted that in 2015 the annual inflation rate amounted to 43.4%, which was the record inflation level in the last 20 years. The growth of administratively regulated prices (gas, electricity, water) was the main factor influencing the inflation rate.

In 2016, a positive foreign goods and services trade balance (USD 337 million) was recorded, which resulted from a 4.1% drop in export with a simultaneous 3.7% increase in import. Turnover of retail and catering companies in Ukraine increased by 4.0% compared with the 2015 levels.

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