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SEB survey: Baltic SMEs bullish on 2013 prospects

In 2013, small and medium-sized companies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania expect higher sales and considerable export activity, indicates a flash survey conducted by SEB.

Polling about 3,500 companies during a large-scale advisory project, the bank drew conclusions about the outlook of the SMEs in 2013.

While higher turnover is expected across the sample, the share of companies forecasting sales growth over 15 per cent was 23 per cent in Latvia, followed by Estonia (19 per cent) and Lithuania (16 per cent).

Export activity will be largely the same in the Baltics: in Estonia and Lithuania about 36 per cent and in Latvia 34 per cent of the companies expect to either increase exports in the existing markets or enter new ones.

“Estonian and Latvian companies expect to generate their increased exports by entering into new markets while Lithuanian companies rather push to increase their volumes on existing export markets,” says Allan Parik, head of Corporate Banking at SEB's Baltic division.

Estonian and Latvian companies are more active regarding their investment plans with 48 and 42 per cent respectively planning investments exceeding 30,000 euro in 2013; in Lithuania it is 21 per cent. Also the share of companies planning no investments in 2013 is the lowest in Estonia (13 per cent), compared to Latvian 22 and Lithuanian 40 per cent.

“We believe the difference in investment activity is based on the fact that Estonia exited the last economic crisis earlier than Lithuania. Estonian companies therefore have a greater need for new investments to improve their competitive positions,” Parik says.

As of employment about 26 per cent of the companies polled in Estonia plan to hire, closely followed by Latvia (25) and Lithuania (23 per cent).

The share of clients planning any type of innovations was in Estonia 44 per cent of polled companies, with Latvia (43 per cent) and Lithuania (37 per cent) close by. About 13 per cent of Estonian companies will focus on the staff in innovation, compared to 11 per cent in Latvia and five per cent in Lithuania.