African swine fever found in Estonian wild pig

A carcass of a wild pig that died of African swine fever, an animal disease that poses a severe threat to pork producers, was found in southern Estonia last week, government veterinary officials confirmed today.

“The infected dead wild pig was found six kilometers from the Latvian border. No domesticated animal has been diagnosed with the disease yet,” said Veterinary and Food Board director general Ago Pärtel in a statement. He reiterated calls for strict measures to keep the situation that way.

Wild pigs with the disease were found in Latvia earlier in the summer, and the virus is believed to have been present on the Estonian side of the border already earlier.

The disease in the Estonian pig was diagnosed by a EU lab in Spain.

There are 15 pig farming enterprises within an eight-kilometer radius of the carcass, which was found in Hummuli in southern Estonia. Partel has established additional strict measures on slaughter and movement of animals for these farms.

Agriculture Minister Ivari Padar said in a media statement: “Restrictions are likely on the way for export of live pigs. These do not impact meat and meat products.”

Source: ERR News

The cost of Russian import ban

The Estonian Institute of Economic Research has put a number on last month’s Russian ban on the import of food products, fish, meat, and fruit and vegetables from EU nations.

The direct loss is only 75 million euros, the sum of the banned products exported to Russia annually, while that figure doubles as many raw ingredients are exported to neighboring countries, which would have been processed and sent to Russia.

Cheese manufacturers are suffering the most, with their losses calculated at 27 million euros. Raw fish and fish products make up 15 million euros annually in exports to the eastern neighbor, with milk and dairy products in a similar bracket.

Losses from indirect exports to Russia are hitting the dairy industry the hardest.

Marje Josing, the head of the institute, said the figures are food for thought for companies which have failed to diversify markets, adding that businesses have played safe in comfortable schemes of selling raw material, instead of adding value or trying to crack Scandinavian or German markets.

She said looking at the bigger picture, the food industry is growing in the world, and demand is increasing.

Source: ERR News

Fish industry looking towards Africa

Russia sanctions and the turmoil in Ukraine have forced Estonian fisheries to look elsewhere for export markets, with Africa showing interest.

Head of the Estonian Fishing Association, Mart Undrest, said there is Baltic herring still to be sold and it will not keep beyond the end of September.

Undrest said the Russian and Ukrainian Baltic herring and sprat markets have dropped off and they have been actively seeking new markets, already netting some results.

The first shipment of a few hundred tons was sent to Africa in June and more was ordered, Undrest said, adding that it takes a little more than a month to transport the fish to Africa, and a second path should arrive there in a few weeks.

Source: ERR News

Products meant for Russian market can be sold in Estonia

Russian-bound food turned back at the border can be sold in Estonia if special permission has been granted by the Veterinary and Food Board and the sale outlet is furnished with Estonian-language information, the agency’s director said. To this point no company has pursued this option.

“It is allowed in exceptional cases to market food packaged for the Russian market in Estonia, if a company needs to do so,” said Ago Pärtel, the director general of the Veterinary and Food Board, on ERR radio.

Meanwhile, Pärtel said, the agency has been sending out letters to far-flung markets to inquire about import requirements for milk products. The countries included Indonesia, Taiwan, Kenya and Tanzania.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev announced on August 7 that Russia would slap a one-year ban on all EU, US, Australian, Canadian and Norwegian meat, dairy and produce. In particular, the Estonian dairy and fishery sector could be heavily impacted.

Source: ERR News

Governemnt pledges to seek new export markets

With the Agriculture Ministry saying the EU is unlikely to decide support for sectors hit by Russian sanctions before September, Estonian officials and producers focused today on what the national government can do. The focus will lie on finding new markets and working with banks to secure more favorable terms for dairy farm investors.

Agriculture Minister Ivari Padar and Foreign Trade Anne Sulling said after meetings with lobby groups today that the sanctions were a political conflict between the EU and Russia and a united front would have to be agreed on the EU ministerial level. A meeting is due to take place in Brussels on Wednesday.

But domestic efforts will also be at center stage for now, with ministries pledging to work with banks to institute grace periods for dary farm investors and possibly to roll out more export subsidies in the 2015 state budget, Padar and Sulling said.

Farmers and milk producers said going into the meeting that they expect decisive action, including more direct subsidies and government intervention on milk prices.

Read more from ERR News

The decrease in trade decelerated

According to Statistics Estonia, in June 2014, exports of goods increased by 1% and imports decreased by 1% at current prices compared to June of the previous year. In the first half-year of this year, the decrease in exports and imports was mostly influenced by a fall in the trade of electrical equipment and transport equipment.

In June, exports from Estonia amounted to nearly 1 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 1.1 billion euros at current prices. The trade deficit was 156 million euros and it decreased by 19 million euros compared to June 2013.

The biggest share of Estonia’s exports was held by electrical equipment (22% of Estonia’s total exports), followed by mineral products (12%) and wood and products thereof (10%). Compared to the same time of the previous year, export growth was significantly influenced by an increase in the exports of mineral products (up by 19 million euros), electrical equipment (up by 9 million euros) and wood and products thereof (up by 8 million euros). At the same time, there was a decrease in the exports of the raw materials and products of the chemical industry.

In June, the main commodities imported were electrical equipment (a fifth of Estonia’s total imports), mineral products (13%) and agricultural products and food preparations (11%). Compared to June 2013, the biggest decrease occurred in the imports of transport equipment and mechanical appliances (down by 26 and 16 million euros, respectively). At the same time, the imports of electrical equipment increased by 10 million euros.

The top destination country of Estonia’s exports in June was Sweden (18% of Estonia’s total exports), followed by Finland (16%) and Latvia (11%). The biggest increase occurred in exports to the USA (up by 13 million euros) and Finland (up by 12 million euros). Exports to the USA increased the most of mineral products and of electrical equipment, but to Finland of electrical equipment and metals and products thereof. There was a significant decline in exports to Russia (down by 15 million euros). Exports to Russia decreased due to reduced exports of agricultural products and food preparations (incl. cheese, pork, spirits), and textiles and products thereof.

The main countries of consignment in June were Finland (15% of Estonia’s total imports), Germany (11%) and Sweden (11%). Compared to June of the previous year, there was a significant decrease in imports from Poland (down by 24 million euros) and Lithuania (down by 13 million euros). There were decreased imports of transport equipment (incl. rolling stock) from Poland, and decreased imports of mineral products (incl. motor spirits) from Lithuania. Imports from Russia increased the most (up by 24 million euros), due to bigger imports of mineral products (incl. heavy oil).

In the first half-year, exports decreased by 6% and imports by 4% compared to the same period of the previous year. So, in this comparison, the decrease of both exports and imports was mostly influenced by electrical equipment and transport equipment (incl. ships and railway wagons).

In the first half-year, exports also decreased for jewellery and raw materials and products of the chemical industry. At the same time, there was an increase in the exports of miscellaneous manufactured articles (incl. furniture, prefabricated buildings), wood and products thereof, and spirits.

The decrease of imports in the first half-year was also influenced by a fall in the imports of the raw materials and products of the chemical industry, mechanical appliances and mineral products. At the same time, the imports of articles of plastics and rubber, textiles and products thereof, and spirits increased.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

PM: Exporters to Russia must have backup plan

Today, Russia released the detailed list of prohibited import goods, which establishes a blanket one-year ban on EU, US, Australian, Canadian and Norwegian meat, seafood, dairy products and produce. The Estonian head of government maintained that Russian consumers would suffer most, while Estonian agriculture as a whole would not be deeply impacted, but said Estonian export businesses should have have a plan B in place for the next year.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said at today’s Cabinet press conference that Estonian agriculture would suffer less than the business sector.

“It’s too early to say what the impact on Estonia will be, but of larger categories of goods, 24 percent of dairy exports go to Russia. Export to Russia makes up 5.5 percent in the case of meat products and close to 9 percent for vegetables.”

According to Postimees, Estonia’s total export to Russia in 2013 across all types of goods starts with 127.7 million euros in drinks and beverages to Russia, followed by 50.2 million euros in milk and dairy products, 15.0 million euros in fish products, 12.1 million euros in grain, starch and milk-containing products, and 11.5 million euros in other foodstuffs. Other categories, including non-food items, were at 5 million euros or less.

Read more from ERR News


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