, VILNIUS, April 28 – Lithuania\’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 12.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to a preliminary estimate published on Tuesday by Statistics Lithuania.
An EU member since 2004, Lithuania saw GDP tumble 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared same quarter of 2007 and 6.6 percent compared to third quarter of 2008.
The estimated 2009 first quarter contraction was the largest since at least 1995 when records began, the Statistics Lithuania statement said.
The dramatic decline was due to a 13.5 percent contraction in industrial in the first quarter as domestic demand decreased sharply due to a lack of credit, falling wages and lower export demand.
Overall Lithuania\’s GDP grew by 3.0 percent in 2008 after record 8.9 percent growth in 2007.
Hit hard by the global financial crisis, Lithuania — a country of 3.4 million citizens — has forecast 10.5 percent negative GDP growth this year.
Like its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Latvia, ex-Soviet Lithuania broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991 before joining the EU and NATO in 2004.