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No-deal Brexit no longer a major threat to Lithuania, economists say

VILNIUS – A no-deal Brexit is no longer a major threat to the Lithuanian economy, economists said on Monday.   

Lithuania is now facing more serious threats due to other problems, primarily the coronavirus pandemic which has not caused any major domestic economic downturn, but has affected its key export markets, they said. 

"Brexit is definitely not at the top of the agenda, because there are more serious issues," Indre Genyte-Pikciene, the chief economist at INVL Asset Management, told BNS. 

Although the Lithuanian economy is very open and dependent on exports, its foreign trade dependence on the UK is not very high, she noted 

SEB Lithuania's economist Tadas Povilauskas said fears remain the same as far as the UK's withdrawal from the EU goes, but it has been more than four years since the referendum, and Brexit, even without a deal with the EU, will no longer be a shock to the Lithuanian economy. 

Most Lithuanian companies have done their homework to prepare for all possible scenarios, he noted. 

A no-deal Brexit is currently seen by SEB economists as a "fifty-fifty" probability, according to Povilauskas.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last weekend threatened to quit Brexit talks with the EU if no trade agreement is reached by the bloc's summit scheduled for October 15. 

The UK accounted for 5.2 percent of the total exports of Lithuanian-origin goods in 2019, down from 6.1 percent in 2016, the year of the Brexit vote, according to Statistics Lithuania. 

Figures from the Bank of Lithuania show that the share of Lithuanian services exports to the UK is even lower, at around 4 percent. 

Lithuanian president calls Latvia's decision not to buy Astravyets electricity "logical"

VILNIUS - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has on Wednesday welcomed Latvia's decision not to buy electricity from the Astravyets nuclear power plant, which is deemed unsafe, calling the decision made by the Latvian "brothers" "logical".

He also underlined that Latvia's decision not to buy electricity from Astravyets should pave the way for a smoother process of synchronization with the power networks of continental Europe.

"I welcome the decision of our Latvian colleagues and brothers. It’s a logical decision, and, most importantly, I hope that it will pave the way for smoother implementation of the synchronization project.

"I would suggest not forgetting this aspect as the absence of a common agreement raised many questions on the practical implementation of the synchronization project," he added.

Lithuania lifts ban on foreign arrivals from EU countries, imposes COVID test requirement

VILNIUS - The government on Monday lifted the ban for foreign travelers from coronavirus-affected EU member states to enter Lithuania, but made it mandatory for them to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. 

"The lists of less and more affected states practically lose their meaning now. The situation is changing everywhere and there are no countries with up to three cases (per 100,000 people). So, we want to make everyone subject to the same entry conditions," Interior Minister Rita Tamasuniene told the Cabinet. 

Currently, Lithuania does not allow foreign arrivals from countries with over 25 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks. 

From now on, the ban will not apply to travelers from the European Union as well as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican. 

If the infection rate in these countries exceeds 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a 14-day self-isolation requirement will apply.   

If it exceeds 25 per 100,000, foreign nationals will have to have been tested negative no more than 72 hours before their arrival in Lithuania, Tamasuniene said.

Lithuanian nationals returning from such countries will have to self-isolate and get tested within 24 hours. 

"The same conditions will apply, except that Lithuanians will be tested here on their return and foreigners will be asked to get tested in their countries," Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said. 

The Cabinet kept in place the requirement for all travelers arriving in Lithuania from abroad by air or sea to register with the National Public Health Center (NPHC) before they disembark. Travelers coming by land must do so within 12 hours upon arrival. 

With the ban on travelers from the European Economic Area (EEA) lifted, the lists of countries from which foreign arrivals are allowed or banned will no longer be published. All travelers, both Lithuanian and foreign, will have to go into isolation if they return or arrive from countries on a list that will be regularly updated by the health minister. 

The travel ban for foreign nationals from countries outside the EEA remains in place. 

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