Biggest decrease in foreign trade in 11 years

According to Statistics Estonia, in April 2020, compared to April 2019, the exports of goods decreased by 17% and imports by 22%. The greater decrease in imports offset the balance of trade.

Estonia’s exports of goods amounted to 1.02 billion euros and imports to 1.09 billion euros at current prices. The trade deficit was 61 million euros; it decreased by 89 million euros compared to April 2019.

According to Evelin Puura, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, the last time trade fell this much was 11 years ago, in 2009. “In April, trade decreased in most commodity sections, but exports and imports increased for products associated with COVID-19, such as disinfection products and pharmaceuticals,” explained Puura.

In April, the top destination country of Estonia’s exports was Finland, followed by Sweden and Latvia. The biggest decreases occurred in exports to the Netherlands (down by 35 million euros), Russia and Sweden (down by 32 million euros each). Compared to the previous year, shale oil was exported less to the Netherlands, mechanical appliances to Russia and electrical equipment to Sweden. Exports increased the most to Argentina, with more motor fuel dispatched.

The biggest exports from Estonia were electrical equipment, wood and articles of wood, and agricultural products and food preparations. The year-on-year decline in exports came mainly from mineral products (down by 63 million euros), transport equipment (down by 47 million euros) and electrical equipment (down by 31 million euros). Exports increased the most for raw materials and products of chemical industry (up by 12 million euros), with highest increases for disinfection products and nitrogenous fertilisers.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Retail prices up by 11 pct!

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2020, the Dwelling Price Index increased by 11.5% compared to the 1st quarter of 2019. The last time that the change in the index was more significant was in the 3rd quarter of 2014, when it was 13.2%.

According to Egne Säinast, analyst at Statistics Estonia, the prices of apartments increased by 11.3% and the prices of houses by 11.7% compared to the 1st quarter of 2019. “The prices of apartments in Tallinn increased the most – by 12.1%. Prices increased by 8.9% in areas bordering Tallinn with Tartu and Pärnu cities and by 12% in the rest of Estonia,” added Säinast.

The Dwelling Price Index expresses the changes in the square metre prices of transactions made by households for the purchase of dwellings and it is compiled for apartments and houses (detached, semi-detached and terraced houses).

Source: Statistics Estonia

Industrial production fell for the second month

According to Statistics Estonia, in May 2020, the production of industrial enterprises decreased by 18% compared to May 2019. Production decreased in all three industrial activities: manufacturing, energy production and mining.

In May, the total production in manufacturing decreased by 17% year on year. There was a fall in almost all manufacturing activities, with the greatest production decreases in the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers (-45%), repair of machinery and equipment (-39%) and manufacture of furniture (-34%). Production increased in the manufacture of paper and chemical products and in quarrying of stone.

According to Helle Bunder, analyst at Statistics Estonia, in May, industrial production continued to decrease at about the same rate as in April. “It is positive, however, that there wasn’t such a significant fall in the manufacture of food products and wood, which are the two manufacturing activities with the largest shares,” said Bunder.

66% of the total production of manufacturing was sold to the external market. The shares of sales for export were largest in the case of manufacture of electronic products and pharmaceutical products. According to unadjusted data, the sales of manufacturing production for export decreased by 25% and sales to the domestic market by 17% year on year.

Read more from Statistics Estonia here

12 pct of parental benefit recipients were men

According to Statistics Estonia, 27,989 women and 3,920 men received parental benefit in Estonia in 2019. The average monthly parental benefit paid to men was a third higher than that paid to women.

In 2019, men accounted for 12% of parental benefit recipients, and their average benefit was 1,728 euros. According to Kaire Raasik, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, women earned on average 1,133 euros in parental benefit, which is 34% less compared to men. “However, the data show that the gap between men’s and women’s parental benefit is decreasing slowly, as it has been even larger in the past,” said Raasik.

Read more from Statistics Estonia here

Customers returned to shopping centres

According to Statistics Estonia, in May 2020, the turnover of retail trade enterprises was 625 million euros. Compared to May 2019, turnover decreased by 1% at constant prices.

According to Jaanika Tiigiste, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, the fall in turnover, which in April was 15% year on year, slowed down considerably in May. “The main reason was that since 11 May, people were again allowed to visit shopping centres,” explained Tiigiste.

The turnover of stores selling manufactured goods decreased by 3% compared to May 2019. Turnover decreased the most, by 50%, in pharmacies and stores selling cosmetics.

In stores selling textiles, clothing and footwear, the decrease was 22%. In other non-specialised stores selling predominantly manufactured goods (department stores), turnover declined by 16%, and in stores selling second-hand goods and in non-store retail sale (stalls, markets, direct sale), by 15%.

Turnover increased compared to May 2019 in stores selling household goods and appliances, hardware and building materials, in other specialised stores, such as stores selling predominantly computers and their accessories, books, sports equipment, games, toys, flowers, plants, etc., and in stores selling via mail order or the internet.

Read more from Statistics Estonia here

The quantity of sold pesticides increased by 17 pct

According to Statistics Estonia, 752 tonnes of pesticides by active substance were placed on the market in Estonia in 2019. The majority were herbicides.

Herbicides accounted for 70%, fungicides for 14%, growth regulators for 10% and insecticides for 4% of the total quantity of pesticides sold. In 2019, there was an increase in the quantity of herbicides sold, and to a smaller extent in the quantities of insecticides and growth regulators. Sales of fungicides decreased.

According to Swen Peterson, analyst at Statistics Estonia, various herbicides have been the most sold plant protection products for years. “Last year, 531 tonnes of herbicides were sold, which is nearly a quarter more than in 2018. Sales did not, however, exceed 2016 quantities, when 604 tonnes were sold,” added Peterson.

Compared to other European Union countries, the quantities of pesticides placed on the market in Estonia are relatively small. For example, in 2018, the quantities of the three major types of pesticides sold were 79,000 tonnes in France, 61,000 tonnes in Spain and 42,000 tonnes in Germany. The sales of these three product categories in Estonia totalled 670 tonnes in 2019. The amounts of sold plant protection products per hectare of utilised agricultural area were 9 kg in Cyprus, 8 kg in Malta and 4 kg in the Netherlands in 2018, in contrast to 0.7 kg per hectare in Estonia in 2019.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Of all job vacancies, 40 pct were in the public sector

According to Statistics Estonia, in the first quarter of 2020, there were 8,613 job vacancies in the enterprises, institutions and organisations of Estonia. Compared to the first quarter of 2019, the number decreased by 25%.

The total number of vacant and occupied posts was 609,211. The economic activities of manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and education held the largest shares in the total number of posts. The most job vacancies were in the economic activities of manufacturing (1,244), public administration and defence (1,109), education (1,040), and human health and social work activities (1,020).

According to Argo Tarkiainen, analyst at Statistics Estonia, the rate of job vacancies, which is the share of job vacancies in the total number of posts, was 1.4%. Of all job vacancies, 40% were in the public sector. “The rate of job vacancies was highest in public administration and defence (2.9%) and lowest in mining and quarrying (0.1%)” said Tarkiainen.

Most of the vacant posts were in Harju county (81%), including Tallinn (69%), followed by Tartu county (6.7%) and Pärnu county (2.4%). The rate of job vacancies was highest in Harju county (1.9%), followed by Valga (1.5%) county, and lowest in Hiiu county (0.2%). 

In the first quarter, 44,215 persons were hired and 42,312 persons left work. Labour turnover (the total number of engaged and left employees), characterising the movement of labour, decreased by 4% compared to the first quarter of 2019. “The number of employees hired as well as the number of employees who left their job were highest in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing and construction. Of all the employees who left their job, 16% left on the employer’s initiative,” added Tarkiainen.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Estonian prices in May

According to Statistics Estonia, the change of the consumer price index in May 2020 was -0.7% compared to April 2020 and -1.7% compared to May 2019. Compared to May of the previous year, goods were 1.5% and services 2.0% cheaper.

Viktoria Trasanov, a leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, noted that, “The last time the change of the consumer price index in comparison with the same month of the previous year was so substantial was more than ten years ago in December 2009, when it was also -1.7%.”

Compared to May 2019, the consumer price index was affected the most by the price decrease of motor fuel. Petrol was 18% cheaper, and diesel fuel, with excise lowered in May, was 26.8% cheaper. Electricity, heat energy and heating were altogether 9.3% cheaper. This included electricity that reached homes, which was 17% cheaper compared to the previous year. A greater impact on the index came also from more expensive food and non-alcoholic beverages. The main contributors to their price increase were fruit, and meat and meat products, which were respectively 23.3% and 8.1% more expensive. Among food products, prices fell for potatoes (-28%), fresh vegetables (-26%) and fresh fish (-22%).

Regulated prices of goods and services fell by 10.8% and non-regulated prices rose by 0.8% compared to May 2019.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Hotel visits dropped by 95 pct

According to Statistics Estonia, 13,000 tourists stayed in Estonian accommodation establishments in April. Their total number of nights spent was 43,000. The number of tourists decreased by 95% year on year.

According to Helga Laurmaa, analyst at Statistics Estonia, there were few tourists in accommodation establishments due to the emergency situation, and the prices dropped. “People were recommended to stay at home also in April and the borders were closed – this was reflected in accommodation statistics,” explained Laurmaa.

In total, 1,300 foreign tourists used the services of accommodation establishments, i.e. 1% of the total number of foreign tourists in April 2019. Of the tourists, 176 were from Latvia, 169 from Russia, 147 from Ukraine and 64 from Finland.

Half of the foreign tourists were in Estonia on business, some came for holiday and a tenth had some other reason for visiting. Foreign tourists spent in Estonia 9,000 nights, which is 97% less than in April 2019. The majority of them preferred the accommodation establishments of Harju county, followed by Tartu, Ida-Viru and Pärnu counties.

Accommodation establishments served 12,000 domestic tourists, whose nights spent totalled 34,000. The number of domestic tourists decreased by 89% and their nights spent by 81% compared to April 2019. Nearly half of the domestic tourists were on holiday and 44% on a business trip. A third of domestic tourists preferred the accommodation establishments of Harju county, followed by Tartu and Pärnu counties.

In April, 835 accommodation establishments were available for tourists. The average cost of a guest night was 19 euros. Compared to April 2019, the price dropped significantly. In Tartu county, the average cost of a guest night was 28 euros, in Harju county 20 euros, in Ida-Viru county 17 euros and in Pärnu county 16 euros.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

GDP fell by 0.7pct in 1stQ

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2020, the gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.7% compared to the 1st quarter of 2019. The GDP at current prices was 6.5 billion euros.

Value added grew by 2%, driven primarily by information and communication and construction. Economic growth was hindered mainly by the energy sector, mostly due to warm winter and reduced heating costs. Of larger economic activities, manufacturing, which began to decline already in the second half of 2019, had a negative impact on economic growth.

Read more and see the graph at Statistics Estonia