Shipper Planning to Launch Ferry Traffic between Sillamäe and Kotka

Stella Company Group, a shipper mainly known for its cargo operation between Germany, Finland, and the Russian city of St. Petersburg, is planning to open a ferry line between the Estonian town of Sillamäe and Kotka, Finland, in May.

Manager Kari Juvas said that according to plans the ship would sail between the two port towns daily. An additional technical check-up has to be performed on the vessel, which is expected to happen next week.

Narva Line OÜ, the Saaremaa Laevakompanii subsidiary that started operation between Kotka and Sillamäe in May 2006, wound up business for a variety of reasons last October.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Construction grew a tenth in 2007

New building in KakumäeAccording to preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, in 2007 the total production of Estonian construction enterprises in Estonia and in foreign countries amounted to 39 billion kroons, which is 10% more than a year earlier.

The construction market which had shown a rapid growth in the last years, slowed down during 2007. It was mainly caused by the decreased demand for new dwellings. In 2007 building permits were granted for the construction of 9,000 dwellings which is about a third less than in 2006. Besides the increasing interest rates of settlement loans, the construction market was influenced by a rapid rise in construction prices, too.The production of construction grew in Estonia as well as in foreign countries. The growth in construction production in Estonia was caused by the increase in building construction, construction of civil engineering stayed at the level of 2006. In foreign countries the construction of buildings as well as the construction of civil engineering increased more than a fourth.

According to the data of the Construction Works Register, the number of dwelling completions in 2007 was 7,232 — 2,164 dwellings more than in 2006. Like the trend of last years, three quarters of completed dwellings were situated in blocks of flats of which the most popular type of building was 3–5-storeyed block of flats. More than a half of dwellings completed last year had two or three rooms. The average floor area per dwelling increased a little compared to the previous year. In 2007, the average floor area of a completed dwelling was 79 square metres. The majority of completed dwellings were situated in Tallinn, followed by the neighbouring rural municipalities of Tallinn and the city of Tartu.

In 2007, the number of completed non-residential buildings was 1,097 with the useful floor area of 918,000 square metres. The useful area of industrial and commercial buildings increased the most. Compared to 2006, the useful floor area and the cubic capacity of completed non-residential buildings increased.

In the 4th quarter of 2007, the production value of construction amounted to 10.4 billion kroons, 9% more compared to the 4th quarter of 2006, of which the construction of buildings grew 6% and the construction of civil engineering 17%.

Change in construction volume index compared to previous year, 1998–2007 (percentage)

Year In Estonia and in
foreign countries
of which
in Estonia
1998 29 23
1999 -20 -13
2000 17 13
2001 6 5
2002 22 25
2003 6 8
2004 11 11
2005 23 20
2006 28 30
2007 10 9

 

Source: Statistics Office

Size Gives Estonia Advantage in EU Internal Market

“Being a small country, Estonia possesses an advantage in the European Union’s internal market as far as equal opportunities are concerned,” visiting EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said.

Speaking at a meeting with members of Estonian parliamentary committees, McCreevy said it was difficult to find the best regulations for the arrangement of the EU internal market because of the complex political compromises between member states that were always required.

Small countries like Estonia, and McCreevy’s native Ireland, have the possibility to react to changes rapidly, which provides them with an advantage over Europe’s internal market, he said.

Urmas Klaas, chairman of the parliamentary economic affairs committee, said it is very important for Estonia that an internal market develops within the EU in which all member states are equal and free movement of goods and people really works.

Also talked about were problems related to the European register of chemical products, which fail to take into account the specifics of Estonia’s oil shale based chemical industry.
Furthermore, the Estonian side raised the necessity to work together in the area of energy security.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Number of students is decreasing

EBS graduationAccording to the Statistics Estonia, at the beginning of academic year 2007/2008, 68,168 students or 599 less students than a year ago were acquiring higher education.

The admittance has increased by 885 students and the number of graduates by 1066. 46% of the students enrolled obtain higher education at state-financed and 54% at non-state-financed study places in academic year 2007/2008. The growth in the share of paid higher education characteristic of previous years has stopped.62% of students are women. Continually, the biggest share of female students is in Master Courses (67%) and the smallest in Doctor Courses (56%). The share of female students is the biggest in such broad fields of education as education and as health and welfare (92% and 89% correspondingly), and the smallest in engineering, manufacturing and construction (26%).

For 7,170 students (11% of the total number of students) the language of instruction during the studies is Russian, and for 1,100 (1.6% of the total number of students) — English. 61% of the students acquiring higher education in English study in private educational institutions. The proportion of Estonian, Russian and English as languages of instruction has remained nearly the same during years.

Admittance, enrolment and graduates by educational level categories

Education level category Admittance Enrolment Graduates
2006 2007 2006 2007 2006 2007
Applied higher educationa 6 503 6 384 23 659 22 938 4263 4 510
Bachelor courses 7 336 8 030 28 628 27 926 5290 5 462
Integrated bachelor and master courses 815 883 3 684 3 853 315 358
Master coursesb 3 499 3 644 10 654 11 070 1535 2 129
Doctor courses 444 541 2 142 2 381 143 153
TOTAL 18 597 19 482 68 767 68 168 11 546 12 612

The number of higher education institutions has stabilized. Higher education can be obtained in Estonia at 35 educational institutions in academic year 2007/2008. Today we have as many higher education institutions as ten years ago and a year ago. Lääne-Virumaa Higher Vocational School was changed into state professional higher school — Lääne-Virumaa Professional Higher School (before state vocational education institution).

Thus, 6 universities as legal persons in public law, 5 private universities, 10 state higher schools and 11 private higher schools are active in academic year 2007/2008. In addition, 3 vocational education institutions provide applied higher education at a limited number of programmes.

The data made public originate from the Estonian Education Information System administered by the Ministry of Education and Research.

a Incl. diploma and professional higher education courses (no admittance any more since 2003).
b Incl. post-graduate 1-year teacher training courses and intern studies.

Source: Statistics Office

400 MEEK to support exports

Tomorrow, 27 February, Enterprise Estonia will open an export marketing support programme, lasting until the year 2013, which will significantly increase the export capacity of Estonian companies on foreign markets. The support, co-funded from the European Regional Development Fund, amounts to more than MEEK 400.

According to Ülari Alamets, director of Enterprise Estonia, the purpose of the new support programme is to increase the competitiveness of Estonian companies on foreign markets by supporting planned integral marketing activities. “With the support, we wish to increase the export turnover of our entrepreneurs, increase the proportion of high added value products and services in export turnover and increase the number of exporting entrepreneurs,” Alamets explained.

According to the director of Enterprise Estonia, an increase in exports is the key to the persistence of Estonian economic life, as the economy that has been mainly focused on the domestic market is showing clear signs of cooling down. “Compared to the export support of 2004-2006, we have simplified the application process and decreased the number of required documents; we have also abandoned the requirement of doing business for a year, so that starting companies could also apply for support,” Alamets said. “According to our estimates, with the MEEK 400, the export marketing programme will generate additional export turnover of about BEEK 50 in six years,” Alamets added.

Within the framework of the export marketing support programme 2007-2013, entrepreneurs can apply for support for an export marketing project that lasts for 12-24 months, for entry with their product or service into a new market. As new marketing activities, the bringing of products into conformity with the requirements of the export market, the preparation of product samples, the elaboration of product or service brands and the registration of trademarks in a foreign country are supported. Of current activities, the visiting of target markets, market studies, organisation of marketing activities in both foreign country and Estonia, and participation in foreign trade shows aimed at target markets are still being supported.

However, due to the earlier inefficient use of the support funds, the purchasing of consultation services for compiling and implementing an export plan will not be supported anymore. The lack of support will be compensated for by respective training and consultations by Enterprise Estonia to entrepreneurs for compiling their export plan and conducting a target market study, which will direct entrepreneurs to be more engaged in the compilation of their export plan than they currently are.

The minimum amount of support applied for is EEK 150 000 and the maximum amount MEEK 1.5 per project. The limit of financing support is up to 50% of eligible costs; the rest of the costs must be funded by the entrepreneur themselves. Support will be given on the basis of the export plan, as a well-elaborated export yields considerably better results. Support can be applied for by both operating and start-up exporters, regardless of the size of the company. More information on the application process available on the web page of Enterprise Estonia: www.eas.ee/eksporditurundus.

The objective of Enterprise Estonia, founded in 2000, is to promote entrepreneurship and regional policy in Estonia. EE is actively engaged in the following fields: support of new sustainable companies, increase of the export capacity and product development capacity of Estonian companies, involvement of foreign direct investments in the Estonian economy, increase of tourism export and local tourism, and the promotion of regional development and a civil society.

Source: Enterpirse Estonia

Media advertising market expanded 29 percent in 2007

Estonia’s media advertising market grew by 29 percent year-on-year in 2007, reaching a size of 1.788 billion kroons.

On the basis of information provided by TNS Emor, it can be said that the Estonian growth rate is one of the fastest in the world. The advertising market grew by more than 20 percent in all sectors of the media. Just like in 2006, the internet was the most rapidly expanding medium for advertising, boasting an annual growth rate of 69 percent.

The largest advertiser in Estonia last year was Procter & Gamble, followed by EMT, Tele2 Eesti, L’Oreal, Rimi Baltic, Saku Brewery, Hansapank, A-Selver, Elisa Eesti, and Elion.
In a comparison of the 10 leading business categories for which advertisements were published, real state showed the biggest growth.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign trade turnover decreased substantially in December

According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, in December 2007 the Estonian foreign trade turnover made up 22.4 billion kroons.a Compared to December 2006, the foreign trade turnover decreased 6% and, compared to November 2007 it decreased 19%.

In December 2007 the exports were 9.3 billion kroons (42%) and imports 13.1 billion kroons (58%). Compared to December 2006, the exports of goods decreased 8% and the imports of goods decreased 4%. Compared to November 2007, the exports of goods decreased 22% and the imports of goods decreased 16%.

The trade deficit was 3.8 billion kroons. In December 2006 it was 3.6 billion kroons and in November 2007 it was 3.8 billion kroons.

Estonia’s foreign trade, 2006–2007

Month Exports Imports
million kroons change compared to million kroons change compared to
2006 2007 same month
of previous
year, %
previous month, % 2006 2007 same month
of previous
year, %
previous
month, %
January 8 397.1 9 681.8 15.3 -4.2 11 436.1 13 819.8 20.8 1.2
February 9 670.5 9 758.7 0.9 0.8 12 235.8 13 198.1 7.9 -4.5
March 10 697.3 10 434.3 -2.5 6.9 14 519.4 15 387.4 6.0 16.6
April 9 744.5 10 406.3 6.8 -0.3 13 854.5 15 495.2 11.8 0.7
May 10 622.1 11 704.2 10.2 12.5 14 258.8 16 026.4 12.4 3.4
June 10 824.3 10 746.9 -0.7 -8.2 15 139.0 14 963.1 -1.2 -6.6
July 8 973.6 9 875.9 10.1 -8.1 13 705.9 13 939.9 1.7 -6.8
August 10 466.0 10 256.4 -2.0 3.9 13 888.9 14 463.9 4.1 3.8
September 10 540.8 9 800.0 -7.0 -4.5 14 563.3 14 428.8 -0.9 -0.3
October 10 445.1 11 791.9 12.9 20.3 15 085.8 15 967.2 5.8 10.7
November 10 531.4 11 856.9 12.6 0.6 15 056.2 15 654.3 4.0 -2.0
December 10 104.9 9 299.5 -8.0 -21.6 13 656.0 13 122.2 -3.9 -16.2

In December the share of EU countries (EU-27)b in exports accounted for 71% and of the CIS countries 13% of total exports (in December 2006 the indicators were 61% and 12%, respectively). The main destination countries in exports were Finland (19% of total exports), Sweden (14%) and Latvia (11%).

In December the share of EU countries (EU-27) in imports was 80% and of the CIS countries 12% of total imports (in December 2006 the indicators were 76% and 15%, respectively). The main consignment countries in imports were Finland (14% of total imports), Germany (12%) and Latvia (12%).

Compared to December 2006, there was a remarkable increase only in the exports of wood and products thereof (by 66 million kroons) and of raw materials and products of chemical industry (by 65 million kroons). At the same time, there was a considerable decrease in the exports of mineral products (by 525 million kroons), of machinery and equipment (by 165 million kroons), of agricultural products and food preparations (by 146 million kroons) and of metals and products thereof (by 111 million kroons).

Compared to December 2006, there was an increase mainly in the imports of mineral products (by 563 million kroons), of raw materials and products of chemical industry (by 120 million kroons) and of agricultural products and food preparations (by 114 million kroons). At the same time, there was a remarkable decrease in the imports of machinery and equipment (by 590 million kroons), of metals and products thereof (by 184 million kroons) and of transport equipment (by 153 million kroons).

Share of countries in Estonia’s exports and imports, December 2007

Groups of countries,
countries
Exports Groups of countries,
countries
Imports c
million
kroons
share,% change
compared to
same month
of previous year, %
million
kroons
share,% change
compared to
same month
of previous year, %
TOTAL 9 299.5 100.0 -8.0 TOTAL 13 122.2 100.0 -3.9
EU-27 6 634.3 71.3 8.1 EU-27 10 443.6 79.6 0.8
CIS 1 165.2 12.5 -7.3 CIS 1 623.8 12.4 -19.8
1. Finland 1 719.6 18.5 16.0 1. Finland 1 771.6 13.5 -21.1
2. Sweden 1 320.4 14.2 11.1 2. Germany 1 607.4 12.2 -10.1
3. Latvia 1 021.6 11.0 2.3 3. Latvia 1 507.9 11.5 46.9
4. Russian Federation 891.4 9.6 -13.1 4. Sweden 1 345.2 10.3 -4.2
5. Germany 531.2 5.7 23.8 5. Lithuania 1 110.6 8.5 55.3
6. Lithuania 482.2 5.2 -8.9 6. Russian Federation 1 042.7 7.9 -39.0
7. United States 392.7 4.2 -41.5 7. Poland 607.6 4.6 19.4
8. Norway 391.6 4.2 61.3 8. Netherlands 394.3 3.0 -13.3
9. Denmark 305.5 3.3 24.0 9. United Kingdom 361.8 2.8 29.7
10. United Kingdom 233.5 2.5 14.1 10. Belgium 354.9 2.7 37.0

Exports and imports by commodity sections, December 2007

Commodity section by HS Exports Imports Foreign trade
balance, (+,-)
million
kroons
million
kroons
share,% change
compared to
same month
of previous year, %
million
kroons
share,% change
compared to
same month
of previous year, %
TOTAL 9 299.5 100.0 -8.0 13 122.2 100.0 -3.9 -3 822.7
Agricultural products and food preparations (I–IV) 870.7 9.4 -14.4 1 191.8 9.1 10.6 -321.1
Mineral products (V) 980.8 10.5 -34.9 2 538.9 19.3 28.5 -1 558.1
Raw materials and products of chemical industry (VI) 446.6 4.8 17.1 972.9 7.4 14.0 -526.3
Articles of plastics and rubber (VII) 276.6 3.0 7.9 520.7 4.0 -11.3 -244.1
Wood and products thereof (IX) 904.7 9.7 7.9 352.6 2.7 -12.3 552.1
Paper and articles thereof (X) 278.8 3.0 -4.6 240.4 1.8 -8.9 38.4
Textiles and products thereof (XI) 427.2 4.6 -8.7 590.9 4.5 -7.9 -163.7
Metals and products thereof (XV) 980.0 10.5 -10.2 1 135.1 8.7 -14.0 -155.1
Machinery and equipment (XVI) 2 154.6 23.2 -7.1 2 892.9 22.0 -16.9 -738.3
Transport equipment (XVII) 727.9 7.8 -3.5 1 720.4 13.1 -8.2 -992.5
Miscellaneous manufactured articles (XX) 703.2 7.6 -0.4 321.9 2.5 -10.5 381.3
Other 548.4 5.9 -53.6 643.7 4.9 -45.4 -95.3

a Foreign trade statistics are based on customs declarations (Extrastat) and statistical surveys (Intrastat). Missing data caused by non-response are replaced with estimations. Estimated figures are revised upon receiving additional information. The data are presented in current prices.
b Since 1 January 2007 Bulgaria and Romania are Member States of the European Union. For comparison with the previous year Bulgaria and Romania were also included in the EU data of 2006.
c In imports the country of consignment is used as a partner country.

Source: Statistics Estonia

President’s speech at the country’s birthday celebration

In his speech at the festive concert dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Estonia, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves stressed that it is time for Estonians to focus on lasting values, such as family, tolerance and effective use of one’s knowledge.

“A 90-year-old country is a young country, but a mature adult, not a teenager any longer. Therefore it is natural that the citizens’ relationship with their country also assumes a different nature,” the president said in his speech at the Estonia Theatre.

“The foundations of the future we built 20 years ago are stronger than ever before. Perhaps, then, we ought to look at it with a different eye?” the president asked. An adult – a person or a country – starts to think about lasting values. Concentrating on lasting values will let us see and differentiate between the important and the not-so-important, the president said.

President Ilves stressed the importance of life and its continuation: family and children. “This is our greatest concern: to have families, to have enough children,” Ilves said, adding that in the last few years more children have been born to Estonian families than ten years ago and the number of children born in Estonia is above the European average. “This gives us hope. But no more than that,” he said.

The demanding world around us will put a number of important questions to Estonia in the coming decade, the president said, adding that the first and most vital of those is energy.
“Or rather, the question of whether we shall have the energy to become an economy of wise people, and take our own decisions about what to do and how to do it. We know today what our energy demand will be in ten years’ time. We know what Estonia’s choices are. We do not yet know which of those choices is best for Estonia,” he said.

The full text is available at the President’s web-page:
http://www.president.ee/en/duties/speeches.php?gid=109397

European Union supports development of Estonian water management

The Ministry of the Environment has completed the draft regulation on the measure for the development of water management infrastructure, which establishes the principles of distribution of the 6.4 billion kroons in funding provided by the European Union’s Cohesion Fund, the activities the funding will support and the potential grant applicants. The regulation also sets out the grant application evaluation system and procedure through to the point of decision-making regarding funding.

Support for the advancement of water management is designed to achieve the development of public water supply and sewerage systems for the provision of water infrastructure and sewerage services for citizens that meet all requirements. Karin Kroon, the director of the Ministry of the Environment’s Water Department, says that during this programme period the European Union is supporting the construction and renovation of drinking water supply systems for settlements of 2000 or more residents and the construction and renovation of the public sewerage system in waste water collection areas where the pollution load is the equivalent of 2000 or more people.

Should the budget for the measure allow, the renovation of drinking water supply systems serving areas with between 50 and 1999 residents will also be funded as well as the renovation of public sewerage systems in waste water collection areas whose pollution load is less than 2000 pollution equivalents.

“This funding will give Estonia a lot,” Kroon said. “Firstly, high quality drinking water, which will significantly reduce the risks to people’s health; secondly, a reduced pollution load throughout our water and living environments thanks to properly developed waste water collection, which will also see less pollutants flowing into the Baltic Sea; and thirdly, recognition for us getting our house in order in terms of water management, which was an obligation we took on in joining the European Union.”

Estonia is required to be collecting and treating waste water in accordance with requirements in all collection areas with a population equivalent of more than 2000 by the end of 2010. “Approximately 933,000 people – around 70% of the population – live in these areas in Estonia,” Kroon explained. “As things stand today, 89% of them are connected to the sewerage network, and we plan to increase this figure to 95% by the end of 2010. Drinking water that meets all standards must be available to every settlement with more than 50 residents by the end of 2013. Around 86% of people in the country currently get their water from the public water supply. Our aim is to increase that to 90%.”

The maximum rate of European Union funding is 85% of the eligible costs of an application, with funding being given to projects for whom such costs come to a total of at least 15 million kroons. “The funding that is allocated and the project’s own financing must together cover the total cost of the project and ensure that it is economically sustainable,” Kroon added.

The first round of applications for funding will begin within four months of the regulation entering force, with local governments and water companies owned 100% by one or more local governments able to apply for grants.

The draft regulation of the measure was produced by the Ministry of the Environment in association with the Environmental Investment Centre and the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture, and is currently being reviewed through the e-law system by the Ministries of Justice, Economic Affairs and Communications, Agriculture, Finance and Social Affairs and the Regional Minister. The draft will also be distributed to the Association of Estonian Cities, the Association of Municipalities of Estonia, the Estonian Water Association and the Association of Estonian Water Companies for their views.

25,149 billion kroons of funding has been provided within the framework of the implementation plan for the development of the living environment, with a total of 7 billion available to Estonia for the advancement of water management. In addition to developing infrastructure, support for water management is also designed to eliminate the focal points of residual pollution and to improve the biochemical and biological condition of watercourses.

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

Regular waste centres not meeting requirements to be closed

The Ministry of the Environment has completed the draft regulation of a measure which establishes the conditions for the provision of funding for the closure of regular waste centres that do not meet requirements.

630 million kroons has been allocated from the European Cohesion Fund for the closure of such waste centres between 2007 and 2013 within the framework of the implementation plan for the development of the living environment. This sum will finance work on waste centres marked for closure by environmental services: collection and sealing of waste and the reconstruction and landscaping or covering of the filled area in an appropriate manner according to its setting.

“The Waste Act states that any centres not meeting requirements in Estonia must be closed and land filling in them cease by 16 July 2009,” explained Peeter Eek, the director of the Waste Department of the Ministry of the Environment. “Closure and clean-up work at these centres must then be completed by 16 July 2013.”

The first round of applications for funding will begin within three months of the regulation entering force, with those responsible for the closure of the waste centres able to apply for grants (generally local governments and waste centre operators). The maximum rate of funding is 90% and recipients are obliged to contribute at least 10% of their own funding to any project.

The draft regulation of the measure was produced in association with the Environmental Investment Centre and the Ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs and Communications, and is currently being reviewed through the e-law system by the Ministries of Justice, Economic Affairs and Communications, Agriculture, Finance and Social Affairs and the Regional Minister. The draft will also be distributed to the Estonian Waste Management Association, the Estonian Council of Environmental NGOs, the Association of Municipalities of Estonia and the Association of Estonian Cities for their views.

25,149 billion kroons of funding has been provided within the framework of the implementation plan for the development of the living environment, with a total of 2.8 billion available for the advancement of waste management. In addition to the closure of waste centres that do not comply with requirements, support for waste management is also designed for the closure and clean-up of oil shale industry and energy waste disposal sites (coke hills and ash fields), the construction of regular waste centres that meet environmental requirements and the advancement of recycling.

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

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