Estonian trade increased after three years of decline

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2016, the exports and imports of goods increased by 3% each compared to 2015. The last time trade grew in comparison of years was in 2012.

In 2016, exports of goods from Estonia amounted to 11.9 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 13.5 billion euros at current prices. The trade deficit in 2016 was 1.6 billion euros, the deficit increased by nearly 73 million euros compared to 2015. The largest surplus was in the trade in wood and articles of wood and miscellaneous manufactured articles (incl. furniture and prefabricated buildings of wood), the largest deficit was registered in the trade in transport equipment and in raw materials and products of chemical industry.

Similarly to previous years, electrical equipment was exported the most, accounting for 22% of Estonia’s total exports in 2016. This was followed by the exports of wood and articles of wood (10%), agricultural products and food preparations (9%) and miscellaneous manufactured articles (9%). The increase in exports was mostly impacted by a rise in the exports of mechanical machinery, electrical equipment and wood and articles of wood. The biggest decrease in exports in 2016 year was recorded in mineral products and agricultural products and food preparations.

The top destination country of Estonia’s exports in 2016 was Sweden (18% of Estonia’s total exports). Finland (16%) was second and Latvia (9%) third. The biggest increase occurred in exports to Mexico, Germany and Finland. Exports to Latvia, Sweden and the USA decreased the most in 2016.

The share of goods of Estonian origin in total exports was 72% in 2016. In the exports of goods of Estonian origin, the largest increase was in the exports of mineral products, wood and articles of wood and electrical equipment. The exports of agricultural products and food preparations dropped significantly.

The main destination countries of goods of Estonian origin are Sweden, Finland and Germany. The biggest increase in the exports of goods of Estonian origin was in the exports to Mexico and Germany and the biggest decrease in the exports to Sweden and Russia.

In 2016, the main commodity imported to Estonia was electrical equipment; its share amounted to 18% of Estonia’s total imports. The second and third places were held by transport equipment (11%) and agricultural products and food preparations (11%). In a year, the imports of transport equipment and base metals and articles of base metal increased the most. The imports of mineral products decreased.

The main countries of consignment in 2016 were Finland (13% of Estonia’s total imports), Germany (11%), and Lithuania (9%). The biggest increase occurred in imports from the Netherlands, Hungary and France. The largest decrease was registered in imports from Finland and Russia.

Estonia exported goods to 179 countries and imported goods from 144 countries. A positive foreign trade balance was recorded in the case of 97 countries. The biggest surplus (1 billion euros) was recorded in trade with Sweden, followed by Norway, Mexico and Finland. The biggest deficit was recorded in trade with Germany, Poland and Lithuania.

In 2016, the share of European Union countries in Estonia’s total exports was 74% and total imports 82%. The trade deficit with other European Union countries totalled 2.4 billion euros, which is 219 million euros more than in 2015. Exports to EU countries increased by 85 million euros and imports by 303 million euros. In trade with non-EU countries, exports increased by 232 million and imports by 86 million euros.

In 2016 compared to 2015, export prices decreased by 1% and import prices by 2%.

In December 2016, exports of goods from Estonia amounted to 1.0 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 1.2 billion euros. Compared to December 2015, exports increased 10% and imports 8%.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Exports of both goods and services increased in December 2016

The flash estimate1 put the Estonian current account at 65 million euros in surplus in December 2016. The surplus on the goods and services account doubled over the year to 74 million euros. The growth of 6% in goods exports at the end of the year was faster than the 5% in imports, so the deficit on the goods account narrowed to 112 million euros. The surplus on the services account was 186 million euros, which was 32 million euros more than at the same time a year earlier. Services exports increased by 11% because of growth in travel services and other services, while imports of services increased by only 6%. The net outflow on the primary and secondary income accounts totalled 9 million euros.

The current and capital accounts were in surplus by a total of 58 million euros in December. This meant that the Estonian economy has been a net lender to the rest of the world in the past nine months.

1 The quarterly balance of payments is compiled from a combined system of representative primary data sources, including surveys of companies, while the monthly balance of payments draws from a considerably smaller database. Although the monthly report uses as much data available for the month reported as possible, including administrative data sources and reports on international payments, it is subjective to a certain degree, which is why it is called an estimate. Once the quarterly balance of payments is released, the monthly balances of payments are adjusted accordingly. For more on the principles used in compiling the flash estimate, see

Eesti Pank publishes the flash estimate of the balance of payments monthly for the last month but one. Eesti Pank will publish the balance of payments for the fourth quarter of 2016 on 9 March 2017.

Source: Bank of Estonia (see better graph here)

Estonians travelled less in 2016, but spent more money

Foreign visitors made 6 million visits to Estonia in 2016, which is about 4% more than in 2015. Foreign visitors consumed more than 1.3 billion euros of goods and services in Estonia in 2016, which was 2% more than in 2015.

The number of same-day visits increased by 3%1 and made up 47% of the total number of visits, while the number of tourists staying overnight rose by 5%. The average overnight stay lasted 4.2 days, which was the same as in 2015.

There was a slight increase of 1% in the number of visits from Finland, which accounted for around 40% of all visits. The number of visitors from other European Union countries increased by 6%. The biggest growth was of around one fifth in the number of tourist visits from Ireland, Spain and Belgium.

One visit to Estonia in four was made from outside the European Union. Tourists from Russia made 850,000 visits to Estonia, which was 4% more than a year previously and accounted for 14% of all visits. The number of visits from the USA was up 30,000 on 2015, while the number coming from Belarus was down 15% at the same time, and the number from Turkey was down by one tenth.

Estonian residents made some 3.5 million trips to other countries, which was 2% less than in 20152. Visitors from Estonia to foreign countries spent an estimated 800 million euros there, which was 6% more than in the previous year.

Countries in the European Union received 80% of the visits, and that figure was the same as in the previous year. There were notable drops of 15% in the number of trips by Estonian residents to Norway, of 13% in the number of trips to Belgium, and of 12% in the number of trips to France.

The preferences of Estonian residents seeking the sun were not the same as in 2015, as 40% fewer trips were made to Turkey, while 17% more were made to Bulgaria, 18% more to Croatia and 22% more to Greece.

Trips to Russia stayed constant at 275,000.

There was no change in the number of overnight visits by Estonian residents or in their average length, which remained constant at 3.7 days. Same-day visits accounted for 14% of the total, and there were 4% fewer such visits.

1 All comparisons have been drawn on an annual basis if not indicated otherwise.

2 The number of trips abroad and the number of foreign countries visited are not the same, as one trip abroad may include visits to several different countries.

Source: Bank of Estonia

Author: Tarass Snitsarenko, Eesti Pank Statistics Department

Estonia’s share of the labour force in the working-age population is 70,4 pct

• Labour market remained tight in 2016.
• Employment is expected to marginally decline and the unemployment rate to grow in 2017.

In 2016, the labour force participation rate, the share of the labour force in the working-age population, increased by 1 percentage point to 70.4%. Within a year, 8,300 additional people entered the labour market, which mainly resulted from the decrease in the number of inactive persons. The number of inactive decreased due to an increase in the retirement age and the rearrangement of the social benefits system regarding people with disabilities; these people are now entitled to certain benefits only if they work or actively look for work.

Situation in the labour market did not change much in the fourth quarter compared to one year before. The number of inactive persons decreased by 0.5%, and the number of employed declined by 0.2%. Employment declined in the construction and public sector, while increased in other services. The unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 6.6%. The number of unemployed amounted to 45,000 in the fourth quarter, while the number of vacancies exceeded 11,000 (latest data from the 3rd quarter).

At the end of January 2017, there were over 6,000 people with reduced working ability looking for a job through the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. As a result of the reform, the Fund expects the number of registered unemployed to increase by one fourth this year.

In 2017, employment is expected to marginally decline. Surging labour costs motivate organisations to increase efficiency of their production processes. Employment in the public sector is expected to decrease as a result of the administrative reform where smaller municipalities merge into bigger administrative units. According to the Ministry of Finance, the number of local authorities is forecasted to drop from 213 to 75 by local government elections due in October. In addition to this, the government has decided to remove one administrative management level – all county government activities shall be terminated on 1 January 2018 and the tasks transferred to either local authorities or ministries. At the same time, the EU presidency in the second half of this year will increase employment somewhat in the ministries and conference/tourism services.

Source: Swedbank

Estonia got over 3 million hotel tourists in 2016

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2016, more than 3 million domestic and foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, which is 7% more than in 2015. The number of both foreign and domestic tourists increased.

In 2016, 1.3 million domestic tourists and 2 million foreign tourists used the services of accommodation establishments. Compared to 2015, the number of both foreign and domestic tourists increased 7%. Of the foreign tourists using the services of accommodation establishments 46% arrived from Finland, 10% from Russia and 7% from Latvia. Compared to 2015, the number of tourists arriving from Finland, Russia and Latvia increased by 5%, 8% and 11%, respectively. Also, there was an increase in the number of accommodated tourists from Germany, Sweden and Lithuania. The number of tourists arriving from Asian countries increased throughout the year. 73% of the accommodated foreign tourists came to Estonia for holidays, 21% were on a business trip and the rest had some other reason for visiting Estonia. 62% of the domestic tourists were on a holiday trip and 23% on a business trip.

In December 2016, 255,000 domestic and foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, which is 9% more than in December 2015. 151,000 foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, which was 11% more than in December 2015. More tourists came from neighboring countries as well as from other major partners for Estonian tourism – Germany, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and Asian countries. 41% of the customers of accommodation establishments were domestic tourists. 104,000 domestic tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, which was 8% more than in December 2015.

In December, 908 accommodation establishments offered services for tourists. 19,000 rooms and 43,000 beds were available for tourists. 42% of the rooms and 34% of the beds were occupied. The average cost of a guest night was 37 euros, remaining at the level of December 2016.

Read more from here Statistics Estonia

Estonia’s 2017 inflation will be around 3 pct

  • Consumer price inflation climbed as oil and food became more expensive on the world market
  • The Eesti Pank December forecast expected average inflation for this year to be around 3.0%, and current developments are in line with that


Data from Statistics Estonia show that the consumer basket was 2.7% higher in price in January than a year earlier and 0.4% higher than in December. The harmonised index of consumer prices for the euro area was up over the past 12 months by 1.8%.

The faster rate of rise of consumer prices has been caused by rises in global energy and food prices. Commodities prices started falling on world markets in 2011, but in early 2016 the prices of oil and food started to rise again. The price of metals and other inputs for manufacturing has also risen globally in recent months. The price of oil in dollars is still half what it was in 2011, and prices of manufacturing inputs are 33% lower. The price of commodities is made less favourable though by the depreciation of the euro against the dollar by around 23% over six years. The lower exchange rate does however favour exports from the euro area, and a recovery in economic growth.

Inflation for food products in the European Union’s internal market is being led by dairy products. The farm-gate price of milk in Estonia has risen back to its level of 2014, before sanctions were introduced by Russia. Together with prices for dairy products, those for fruit and vegetables have risen rapidly as the weather in southern Europe has not been favourable for farming. Vegetables rose by 10% in price over the past two months, and fruit by 4.8%. The immediate cause of this is that around 40% of the fresh vegetables consumed in Estonia and 90% of the fruit and berries are imported. Around one third of the imported vegetables come from sources outside the euro area, such as Poland and North Africa, and so the higher prices may also be due to the depreciation of the euro at the end of last year. Prices of fruit and vegetables have also risen and fallen sharply before, though the effect of a rise in prices usually takes about half a year to ease.

The Eesti Pank December forecast expected that the food basket for consumers will rapidly become more expensive this year, with the rate of rise passing 5%. In the coming months, once companies have exhausted their supplies in warehouses, consumer prices for food will also start to be affected by the rise in excise on alcohol and tobacco in February. Average inflation in the consumer basket in 2017 will reach 2.8%.

Source: Bank of Estonia
Author: Sulev Pert, Economist at Eesti Pank (Bank of Estonia)

Milk production remained at the level of 2015

According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, the production of milk amounted to 781,400 tonnes in 2016, which was a little less than the year before. The number of dairy cows decreased by the end of the year, while milk yield per cow increased.

On 31 December 2016, the number of cattle in Estonia was 248,500, including 86,300 dairy cows. Compared to the same time of the previous year, the number of cattle has decreased by 3%, but the number of dairy cows has decreased by 5%. The number of dairy cows has been in decline during the last twenty years with some small increases in between. At the same time, the average milk yield per cow has continuously increased. In 2016, the average milk yield per cow was 8,832 kilograms, i.e. 390 kilograms more than in 2015.

At the end of the year, there were 265,400 pigs and 87,200 sheep and goats in Estonia. The number of pigs decreased by 13% and the number of sheep and goats decreased by 4% compared to the end of 2015. At the end of the year, there were 2.0 million poultry, which was 8% less than at the end of 2015.

In 2016, the production of eggs amounted to 194.1 million, which was 5% less than the previous year. 110,500 tonnes (live weight) of livestock and poultry were sold for slaughter (incl. export) and slaughtered in holdings; the production of meat (live weight) decreased 10% in a year. The production of beef and pork decreased, while the production of mutton, goat meat and poultry increased.Milk production per cow, 1994–2016

The statistics are based on the data of the register of farm animals of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB) and on the data of Estonian Livestock Performance Recording Ltd, which by using models have been converted to the format necessary for producing statistics.

Source: Statistics Estonia