With a demonstrated resilience to the crisis and the recovery gaining strength, macroeconomic policies should aim at preserving stability and complementing structural reforms that address long-standing challenges. A medium-term plan to rebuild buffers, support potential growth, and target pockets of vulnerability would help address pre-existing disparities and poverty. Sustained productivity growth, supported by the implementation of politically difficult but needed structural reforms, is the only way to support high wage growth and convergence with Western Europe. Failure to do so could jeopardize Lithuania’s hard-earned competitiveness gains.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Lithuanian economy has continued to enjoy a strong macroeconomic and fiscal performance, but long-term challenges remain largely unaddressed. The continued strong economic performance suggests that a neutral fiscal stance would have been preferable in the year 2019. The report discusses that Lithuania needs sustained productivity gains to ensure higher living standards and convergence with Western Europe. Macroeconomic and financial stability is a prerequisite for sustained growth and has been achieved through prudent policies and labor market flexibility. Nevertheless, significant and well-identified structural challenges have yet to be addressed with ambitiously designed and decisively implemented productivity-enhancing reforms. The current expansionary cyclical environment and strong fiscal and external positions provide an ideal opportunity to address these challenges. Fintech provides big opportunities to improve financial services and produce high-skill jobs; however, it also brings challenges, particularly related to antimoney laundering. The authorities’ efforts to promote fintech are already delivering results.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of Lithuania picked up steam in 2017, following two years of sluggish growth. Real GDP expanded by 3.9 percent largely because of the acceleration of investment, which benefited from credit growth and high capacity utilization. Private consumption remained the main engine of growth, though it was held back by decelerating real wages. The external current account swung to a modest surplus with exports benefiting from past investments in export capacity and improved external demand. Growth in 2018 is projected at 3.2 percent, mainly because of weaker exports after a very strong performance in 2017 and a slowdown of consumption driven by negative employment growth.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of Lithuania has been gathering momentum, following sluggish performance in 2015 and most of 2016. Real GDP expanded by 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017 after rising by 2.3 percent in 2016. Strong private consumption, on the back of robust wage growth and low inflation that supported purchasing power, has long been a main driver of growth. Building on recent momentum, economic growth should be strong in 2017, rising to 3.2 percent. Improving external conditions and a turnaround in European funds absorption, as well as high capacity utilization, should spur exports and investment.
This paper discusses key issues pertaining to the economy of Lithuania. Good policies and favorable business conditions have helped put Lithuania back on the convergence path with western European living standards. Last year, growth took a temporary hit from difficult external environment. External factors caused the price level to fall in 2015, but deflation is unlikely to take root. The external current account moved into moderate deficit in 2015 due to weak export markets and strong domestic demand. Lithuania needs to focus on raising productivity growth through structural reforms, securing continued competitiveness as labor market tightens, and reducing income inequality through fiscal measures while maintaining a prudent policy stance.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that growth in Lithuania has remained resilient, despite challenges in the external environment. Strong domestic demand growth on the back of improving labor market conditions underpinned real GDP growth of 2.9 percent in 2014. Exports held up reasonably well despite Russian import bans. Growth should remain largely unchanged at 2.8 percent from last year in 2015, as positive external factors counterbalance negative ones and domestic demand remains robust. The main policy challenge will be to secure reasonably rapid convergence with living standards in western Europe going forward.
This 2014 Article IV Consultation highlights that Lithuania’s economy has entered a broadly favorable trajectory of healthy and balanced growth, but income convergence with Western Europe has a long way to go. With inflation at historical lows and well-advanced repair of public finances damaged by the 2008/09 crisis, meeting the entry criteria seems on track. Financial stability has improved further in 2013, with the capital adequacy ratio exceeding 17 percent and steady progress in reducing nonperforming loans. The main challenge is now resuscitating the sluggish private sector credit growth, which could undermine investment and the recovery if it continued for much longer.
This 2013 Article IV Consultation IMF staff report focuses on measures that are being undertaken to rebalance macroeconomic growth in Lithuania. The IMF report discusses the requirement of fiscal consolidation to fully rebuild fiscal space. It highlights the important role played by the financial sector in enabling sound credit expansion to support economic growth. Reducing obstacles to the resolution of nonperforming loans could help ease constraints on credit supply. The current account deficit is projected to remain relatively contained over the medium term, reaching about 2 percent of GDP, and financed mostly by foreign direct investment.
The 2011 Article IV Consultation reports that the economy in the Republic of Lithuania has staged an impressive recovery based on a supportive global environment and determined policy adjustment. The main driver of the recovery was export growth. Executive Directors commended the authorities for Lithuania’s impressive economic recovery, noting in particular the sizable fiscal consolidation and the maintenance of confidence in the banking system. Directors also supported the authorities’ goal of reducing further the fiscal deficit, thereby putting government debt on a downward path.
Lithuania experienced a severe output decline. A large consolidation contained the deterioration in the fiscal deficit and safeguarded market financing. Further fiscal consolidation is needed to place deficits and debt on a sustainable path. Tackling the deficit in the social security system and expanding the revenue base will achieve adjustment in a sustainable, pro-growth, and equitable manner. A sustained recovery also hinges on the ability of the economy to rebalance toward tradables. The rising level of unemployment makes it imperative to advance with structural reforms.