Academic journal article
By Zitkiene, Rima; Zitkus, Leonas
Business: Theory and Practice , Vol. 12, No. 2
The concept 'economic integration' can have various meanings. It can be enterprise's integration into a larger concern. It can also have special context, for example, when the integration of region's economy into the country's economy is considered. In this article the concept 'economic integration' is used to characterize the intensity of international economic relations. So the definition of W. Molle is suitable: integration is gradual disappearance of economic boundaries between independent states until economies of those countries start functioning as a unified whole (Molle 2006: 8).
The core element of major integrated economic systems (integration groups) is integration of goods markets--as a certain state and / or continuous process. With the help of legal means (agreements, treaties) states try to repeal obstacles for free mutual trade exchanges. Integration consequences understood this way  have begun to be analyzed since the first years of the European Community creation. The first works were attached to the changes caused by classic static consequences, i.e. trade creation and trade diversion (Balassa 1961; Pelkmans 1984). Later, at the end of the 9th decade of the 20th century and at the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, the new studies related to the analysis of consequences of common market creation and perspectives as well as possible effects of economic monetary union showed.
Lithuania's (as well as of other CEE countries) choice to go on the way of integration to the structures of Western Europe was more of emotional nature that was dictated by rational economic motives. In socioeconomic sense this way was understood as 'suboptimal decision of wealth maximization problem' (Swierkocki, Woreta 1998). Supporters of this way argued their position by the achievements of that time European Community countries, which were derived from integration of those countries' economies. Their opponents stated (and it ran quite convincible) that, first of all, partners' potential and static state in integration processes were very different though, secondly, the present theories referring to which it was supposed to explain the benefit created by the integration, could be inappropriate for such situation (Jovanovic 1997; Molle 2006). In the case of Lithuania those fears were strengthened by the fact that country's economy almost had no direct relations with Western Europe until getting back its independence.
Nowadays after almost fifteen years passed since entering into first economic relations with the EU regulated by agreements and the analysis of integration to the EU consequences could help to dispel (or confirm) mentioned doubts. During this period various aspects of international impact on countries economy caused and still cause the interest of scientists in Lithuania (Piesarskas et al. 2003; Lietuvos integracija ... 2007; Starkeviciute 2007; Melnikas 2008; Zitkus, Zitkiene 2008; Davulis 2009; Travkina, Dudzeviciute, Maciukeviciene 2009) as well as in other countries: Czech Republic (Kraftova, Kraft 2004), Latvia (Rivza et al. 2010), Poland (Stawarska 1998; Kawecka-Wyrzykowska 2001; Niemiec 2008; Olczyk, Wolszczak-Derlacz 2009). The problem--whether the changes, which can be explained by regularities of economic integration, occur in Lithuania's economic relations with other countries--is discussed in this work. Integration consequences, first of all, reveal in foreign trade, therefore they are disclosed by the changes, which occurred in the last fifteen years in this field.
The aim of the work is to identify changes occurring in Lithuanian foreign trade, which could be ascribed to integration consequences formulated in scientific literature.
In order to attain the aim the following objectives are formulated:
--to explain development of legal basis of Lithuania's foreign trade relations;
--to determine the position of foreign trade changes in the whole (system) of economic integration consequences;
--to reveal Lithuanian foreign trade changes mostly related to integration processes. …