PM invites Polish retail chain to Lithuania

Lithuanians shopping in Poland

Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, currently on a visit in Poland, says he sees possibilities for a Polish retail chain to come to the Baltic state.

"There is a proposal to search for possibilities for one of Poland's retail chains to look into the perspective of investing in Lithuania," Skvernelis told BNS on Tuesday.

Poland's investments in Lithuania were high on the agenda of the Lithuanian prime minister's meeting with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party, on Monday evening.

Skvernelis refused to specify any retail chains until decisions are made. Zabka and Lewiatan chains operate the largest number of stores in Poland, while the popular Biedronka stores are operated by Portuguese businessmen.

"Poland's economy features strong growth, while Lithuania is ready to receive the investment. When it comes to retail chains, pharmaceutical market, transport infrastructure – the investments are welcome, and this was discussed," said the head of the Lithuanian government.

In Lithuania, the bulk of the retail market is occupied by Maxima, followed by Iki, Norfa and Rimi. Germany's Lidl came to the market in June of 2016. Aibe operates a well-developed chain in smaller cities and towns. Earlier this year, Finland's Prisma left the Lithuanian market.

The Monday's meeting between Skvernelis and Kaczynski was held behind closed doors and took more than three hours. Kaczynski holds no formal position at the Polish government, however, many reviewers see him as the most influential politician in Poland.

The prime minister said the meeting had addressed further investments by Poland's Orlen in Lithuania's oil refinery in Mažeikiai, adding he was assured of Poland's determination to invest in the development of Rail Baltica railway and Via Baltica highway.

A major breakthrough in bilateral relations occurred last June when Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) and Orlen Lietuva, the Lithuanian unit of Poland's Orlen that owns the Mažeikiai crude refinery, signed a deal on oil product transport tariffs, ending a dispute over Poland's investments in Lithuania that had lasted for years.

Main tensions in bilateral relations are caused by disagreements on the situation of ethnic minorities.

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