Heating price in Tallinn falls 11 pct

AS Tallinna Küte lowers heating prices by about 11 pct retroactively from March 1, ERR News reports. The number announced today and the new price is depending on US dollar’s exchange rate. April’s bill is calculated on new, lower price.

In February the heating prices dropped by 7,2 pct and in January 9 pct. In three months the price of heating has fallen by nearly 25 pct. Last year the prices nearly doubled. Tallinna Küte heats nearly 2/3 of the capital.

Source: BBN


Euro strengthens economic environment

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Filipe Marques Amado, who was in Estonia for an official visit. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet expressed his satisfaction that the first visit ever to Estonia by a Portuguese foreign minister has taken place.
Paet introduced Estonia’s plans for joining the euro-zone with his Portuguese colleague. “Estonia wishes to join the euro-zone under the existing criteria and procedures. We do not want exceptions to be made; we want to fulfil all the criteria and receive a positive decision on that basis, so that for example in the year 2011 it would be possible for Estonia to begin using the euro,” emphasised the Estonian foreign minister.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Amado stated that the effects of the current global economic crisis would be much harsher in Portugal if the nation had not adopted the euro.
In light of the upcoming European Union-United States summit, the foreign ministers addressed the topic of Europe-USA relations. Foreign Minister Paet recognised his colleague for his efforts towards actively raising transatlantic topics in the European Union. “Estonia, like Portugal, considers a tight partnership based on common values between the European Union and the USA to be very important for guaranteeing security and stability in Europe and all over the world,” said Paet. “At the moment, it is essential for the EU, in its relations with the USA, to intensify all kinds of co-operation, including in the energy security sector,” stated Paet. He also emphasised that in the circumstances of the global financial crisis, intensifying co-operation between the European Union and the United States is essential for preventing the spread of protectionist economic policies in the world.
The Estonian and Portuguese foreign ministers agreed that the current economic difficulties and complications in implementing the Treaty of Lisbon should not hinder the further enlargement of the European Union. “It is crucial to complete accession negotiations with Croatia, and it is equally important to move forward with other candidate states in order to guarantee the preservation of their accession prospects and their motivation to implement reforms,” Paet noted.
During the meeting with his Portuguese colleague, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised the value of cultural contacts between the two nations: “Portuguese language instruction takes place in both Tartu and Tallinn Universities, and both universities have, in accordance with a co-operation agreement, a scholarship for language study in Portugal,” Paet said, expressing his satisfaction over co-operation with Portugal.
The foreign ministers also discussed European Neighbourhood Policy Eastern Partnership and including Belarus in the Neighbourhood Policy. Foreign Minister Paet emphasised that the Eastern Partnership must become a concrete policy that will be an effective medium for allowing target states to become closer to the EU. When talking about Belarus, Paet emphasised the need for a strict and conditional yet positive policy. “Prerequisites for including Belarus in the Neighbourhood Policy must be progress in the nation and a desire to move forward with reforms based on democratic values and ensuring the basic rights of citizens,” said Paet.
On the initiative of the Portuguese foreign minister, the two also talked about the Mediterranean Union. Foreign Minister Paet expressed hope that the co-operation of the union, which was halted due to the military activity in Gaza, will see positive development and the Arab nations will continue co-operation with their Mediterranean partners.

Source: Estonian Review (vm.ee)

Amserv to start as Peugeot dealer in April

Under a co-operation agreement signed with the Peugeot importer KW Bruun Baltic, Amserv Grupp will become a dealer for Peugeot from April.
Peugeot cars will be sold and serviced by the dealerships of Ascar, a holding of Amserv Grupp, in Tallinn and Tartu.
Raivo Kutt, CEO of Amserv Grupp, said Amserv added Peugeot to the list of carmakers it acts as a dealer for out of the desire to strengthen its market position in the segment of utility vehicles, where Peugeot has occupied the leader’s position for years.
Amserv Grupp said in a press release it ranks as one of the largest car sale and service companies in the Baltic countries. Its 15 representations are located in Tallinn, Parnu, Tartu, Paide, Viljandi and Riga.
The addition of Peugeot will increase the number of brands represented by Amserv Grupp to seven, the other six being Toyota, Lexus, Opel, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Saab.
KW Bruun Baltic is the official importer of Peugeot vehicles to Estonia and Latvia.

Source: Estonian Review

Sales of self-scanning systems to retail sector increased

New Vision, the leading provider of information technologies for retail in Baltic States, reached 11,1 million euro of consolidated revenue. It is 17 % more than in 2007.  In year 2009 New Vision recommends for retailers not to save blindly but to  select those investments, which has a clear short term ROI.

In 2008 retailers were interested in innovations, which increase the effectiveness of business, and solutions, which optimize business process. As a result New Vision installed more than 80 self-checkouts, electronic shelf labels and presented an innovation in Baltic States – self-scanning system. Also to respond the new market request, the company installed BI solutions, CRM and a tool of debts management in Microsoft Dynamics NAV system.

During 2008 we have invested more than 145 thousands euro for various studies and trainings as well as workshops  to  learn and implement  best practices and know-how available at our partners. Also during economical growth period our focus was constantly on new product development. So now  we are fully ready to provide the solutions for retailers which would help them to increase efficiency and optimize their business processes. – says Evaldas Budvilaitis, CEO of UAB New Vision Baltija.

In  autumn of 2008 NEW VISION was awarded as “Knowledge Economy Company 2008” in Lithuania. UAB New Vision Baltija was announced the most innovative company of the year which in its business creates new knowledge, by its example inspires the others and helps the society.

Last year New Vision became an authorized ZEBRA printers’ service center in the Baltic States and got the gold partner status of LS Retail. Also New Vision got Business Intelligence Developer certification of MCITP-level and the fifth Microsoft OEM Hardware Solutions competency.

In such economical situation, the most popular method of surviving is the strong saving. We think that this solution alone won’t help. It is necessary to use technologies, which help to organize the company process effectively and have a short time of pay back period – suggests Evaldas Budvilaitis.


Baltika to open ten stores

The listed Estonian garment maker and seller Baltika is about to open ten new brand stores in Estonia in the first half of 2009, two of them in the south-western city of Pärnu, this Thursday.
Four stores will be opened in the extension of the Rocca Al Mare shopping centre in Tallinn that is due to be completed this spring and another four in the Baltika Quarter being developed on Veerenni Street, also in the capital city.
The Monton and Mosaic brand stores in Pärnu will open in the Pärnu Keskus shopping centre and take up a floor area of approximately 400 square meters combined.
After the outlets in Pärnu have opened, Baltika will have 31 stores in Estonia.

Source: Estonian Review

EU allocates 6.7 mEUR for Estonia-Latvia gas link

Aside from the Estlink-2 undersea power cable project, the project to build a gas link between Estonia and Latvia also stands to receive support from the EU’s economic stimulus package.
The size of the EU allocation for the gas link project is 6.7 million euros.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said after the EU summit on Friday that according to the summit’s decision, Estonia will receive 8.3 million euros as support to develop broadband Internet. Other areas that are to be supported in Estonia include agriculture, said the prime minister.
It has been announced previously that Estlink-2 would get 100 million euros in EU support.
Estonia is contributing 117 million kroons to the five billion euro EU aid package but stands to get significantly more as recipient, the premier added.

Source: Estonian Review

Profit of Playtech soars 55 pct

The developer of online games and gaming environments Playtech has posted a profit of 41 million euros for 2008, which marks a 55% increase over the profit earned in the year before.
Playtech’s total revenues surged 70% to 112 million euros. The casino business gave 79 million euros and poker 30 million euros of revenues.
Playtech signed 15 new license agreements during the year.
The company observed in the report that the first months of 2009 have been successful for it as revenues have moved up in comparison with the end of 2008.
Playtech’s share has made gains in recent days and traded at four pounds sterling on Thursday.
Playtech does much of its development work in Estonia.

Source: Estonian Review

Attract Russian tourists with tax-free shopping

Tax free limit, which was applied at the beginning o the year, increased tourists’ interest so remarkably that Juhan Parts, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communication thinks that the limit could be lowered more, Eesti Päevaleht reports.
Last year a tourist has to spend at least EEK 2500 to get tax discount. This year the amount has decreased by EEK 500. According to traders’ union recent statistics Russians made nearly 50 pct more purchases from the shops.

The number of foreign tourists’ tax free purchases increased by 60 pct, Marika Merilai, the head of the Estonian traders’ union said.

Read more from BBN here

Foreign trade declined sharply

According to Statistics Estonia, in January exports of goods in current prices totalled 7.2 billion kroons and imports 8.8 billion kroons. Compared to January of the previous year, exports declined by 29% and imports 36%. The decrease in value of exports and imports began already in November 2008.

In January exports of goods was 2.9 billion kroons smaller than in January of the previous year. The decline in exports was mainly caused by the decrease in exports to the European Union countries. The decline in exports was also partly caused by the high comparative indicators last year. Exports was last on such a low level in the 1st quarter of 2005.

In January imports of goods was 5 billion kroons smaller than in January 2008. The decline in the imports was mainly caused by the decrease of imports from the EU countries. The decrease was also partly caused by the high comparative indicators last year.

Estonian foreign trade deficit was 1.6 billion kroons in January, which was 2.1 billion kroons less than in January of the previous year. The foreign trade deficit was so small last in January 2005.

In January the share of the European Union (EU 27) countries was 74% and the share of the CIS countries accounted for 10% of the total exports (in January of the previous year 75% and 10%, respectively). The main countries of destination for goods were Finland, Sweden and Latvia. Exports to EU countries decreased by 2.3 billion kroons and to CIS countries by 0.3 billion kroons compared to January of the previous year. Exports to Latvia, Finland and Sweden decreased the most.

In total imports of goods, the share of the EU 27 countries was 73% and that of the CIS countries 16% (in January of the previous year 80% and 12%, respectively). The main countries of consignment were Finland, Russia and Germany. Imports from the EU countries decreased by 4.7 billion kroons compared to January of the previous year. Imports from Sweden, Finland and Germany declined the most.

The trade deficit between the EU countries decreased from 3.5 billion kroons to 1.1 billion kroons compared to January of the previous year.

In both exports and imports, the most important commodity section in January was machinery and equipment, which accounted for nearly a quarter of both flows. In January there was a decrease of both exports and imports among all of the commodity chapters. Exports of transport equipment, metals and products thereof and wood and products thereof decreased significantly. The decrease in imports was mainly caused by the decrease in arrivals of transport equipment, machinery and equipment and mineral products (incl. fuels).

Estonia’s foreign trade, 2008–2009 (million kroons)

Year Month Exports Imports Balance
2008 January 10 155 13 827 -3 672
  February 10 679 13 693 -3 014
  March 10 652 14 186 -3 534
  April 12 338 15 927 -3 589
  May 11 555 14 502 -2 947
  June 10 863 14 126 -3 263
  July 10 972 15 088 -4 116
  August 11 144 13 488 -2 344
  September 12 309 15 285 -2 976
  October 13 247 15 726 -2 479
  November 9 898 12 950 -3 052
  December 8 644 11 714 -3 070
2009 January 7 234 8 810 -1 576

Main foreign trade partners of Estonia, January 2009

Country of destination,
group of
Exports, mEEK kroons Share,
comp to
same month
prev year,
group of
same month
prev year,
TOTAL 7 234 100 -29 TOTAL 8 810 100 -36
EU 27 5 330 74 -30 EU 27 6 440 73 -42
CIS 717 10 -27 CIS 1 407 16 -13
1. Finland 1 457 20 -24 1. Finland 1 251 14 -40
2. Sweden 1 102 15 -30 2. Russia 947 11 -25
3. Latvia 674 9 -46 3. Germany 900 10 -47
4. Russia 550 8 -25 4. Latvia 804 9 -35
5. Germany 487 7 -6 5. Sweden 767 9 -52
6. Lithuania 353 5 -46 6. Lithuania 704 8 -31
7. Denmark 318 4 -5 7. United Kingdom 330 4 -56
8. Norway 240 3 -30 8. Belarus 325 4 97
9. Canada 166 2 14 9. Poland 312 4 -47
10. Netherlands 152 2 -48 10. China 305 4 -2

Exports and imports of goods by commodity sections, January 2009

Commodity section
by Combined
Nomenclature (CN)
Exports Imports Balance,
mEEK share,
change com
same month 
mEEK share,

 to same

prev y,

TOTAL 7 234 100 -29 8 810 100 -36 -1 576
Agricultural products and food preparations (I–IV) 719 10 -16 1 075 12 -19 -356
Mineral products (V) 819 11 -24 1 618 18 -27 -799
Raw materials and products of chemical industry (VI) 377 5 -3 767 9 -24 -390
Articles of plastics and rubber (VII) 212 3 -36 411 5 -34 -199
Wood and products thereof (IX) 637 9 -40 162 2 -55 475
Paper and articles thereof (X) 228 3 -34 238 3 -22 -10
Textiles and products thereof (XI) 385 5 -26 517 6 -29 -132
Metals and products thereof (XV) 710 10 -40 680 8 -46 30
Machinery and equipment (XVI) 1756 24 -15 1 970 22 -32 -214
Transport equipment (XVII) 361 5 -60 671 8 -67 -310
Miscellaneous manufactured articles (XX) 644 9 -24 211 2 -39 432
Other 386 6 -32 490 5 -34 -104
Source: Statistics Estonia

Overdue loans 4% of banks’ loan portfolio

The volume of banks’ loan and leasing portfolio declined 0.4%, i.e., 1.1 billion kroons in February. The decrease was relatively moderate considering the current economic situation. The total portfolio volume in February was 266 billion kroons. The contraction in the volume of the loan and leasing portfolio was rather uniform across both enterprises and households. The current corporate credit need is mostly affected by more modest economic activity. Households’ loan behaviour is influenced by future uncertainties, which means people prefer saving to consumption. This is well reflected in the February change in consumer credit volume, which dropped by 443 million kroons (including the 103-million-kroon decrease in car lease), i.e., 1.5%.

The volume of household deposits increased in February, whereas the volume of corporate deposits decreased. The annual growth of household and corporate deposits was 0.5% in February with the total volume of deposits amounting to 104.8 billion kroons. The volume of household deposits grew by 942 million kroons, i.e., 1.7%. The volume of corporate deposits fell by 497 million kroons, i.e., 1%.

The share of loans overdue by more than 60 days in the loan portfolio increased by 0.5 pp in February, amounting to 4.1% of the banks’ loan portfolio at the end of the month. The share of household overdue loans did not expand in February, but the existing overdue loans remained in default. As regards enterprises, the volume and share of loans overdue by more than 60 days increased the most in the construction and real estate sector. All in all, loans overdue by more than 60 days accounted for 4.7% of the corporate loan portfolio.

Since the loan portfolio shrank, the average capital adequacy ratio of banks went from 19.5% in January to 19.8% in February. Banks have accumulated sufficient capital buffers in recent years to cope at a time when loan losses may considerably expand.

The decrease in international money market interest rates keeps easing the debt burden of earlier borrowers. Since key interest rates fell, the average interest rate on new mortgage loans and long-term corporate credit issued in February sank to 4.6% and 4.8%, respectively. The risk margins of banks are higher than a year ago, but stabilised in February. This shows the credit market situation has become slightly clearer.

The financial sector statistics and publication calendar are available on the web site of Eesti Pank at www.bankofestonia.info/pub/en/dokumendid/statistika/pangandusstatistika/tabelid/.

Source: Bank of Estonia; here you can also see the graph