Statistics Estonia presents today, i.e. on 31 July, the newly published publication “Eesti statistika aastaraamat. 2009. Statistical Yearbook of Estonia“, which gives an overview of the Estonian environment, social and economic life and provides comparisons with other European countries.
Estonia recovered fast after the economic difficulties at the end of nineties. The growth rate of GDP accelerated after the accession to the European Union (EU), rising over 10% in the second half of 2005. Double-digit growth rates persisted for over a year. Above all, economic success was made possible by cheap loans. The situation was favourable for loan stock to increase with the expanding real-estate boom. During 2000–2007 the loan stock of private persons increased more than ten times. Enterprises could spare resources for expansion and their value added thrived. In prosperous economic climate the income of households increased fast which in turn contributed to the growth of domestic demand. Economic growth, brought on largely by loan money and based on domestic demand, proved to be fleeting and ten years after the last crisis Estonian economy is once again in recession. At the beginning of 2008 we were expected to endure “soft landing”, but already in the 2nd quarter the GDP of Estonia started to descend drastically compared to the same period in 2007. Economic cooling affected the majority of developed countries in 2008. In almost all European countries as well as in the USA and Japan there were negative GDP growth rates in the last quarter of 2008.
In order to come out of the recession, Estonia should pursue gradual balancing of the economy. Rapid decrease in the domestic demand, improved foreign trade balance and adaptation of the labour market to new conditions have already contributed to this end. The openness of Estonia gives us opportunities, but makes us also more vulnerable when foreign demand for our products and services is decreasing. The exporting capacity and possibilities of the Estonian enterprises need to be increased. Productivity should also be increased, though it often involves additional costs.
Although increasing of the exporting capacity of Estonia is important, the exports of electric energy and shale oil have two sides — increased exports have caused an increase in the volume of oil shale ash by one third, other environmental pressure has increased, too.
Economical use of resources and reduction of the negative impact of waste on the environment serve as a precondition for sustainable development. In Estonia, the generation of municipal waste has grown by a quarter since 2001. Although the increase in consumption has brought along larger volumes of waste, it should be pointed out as a positive sign that growth in the generation of waste has been slower compared to the economic growth. With the volume of generated municipal waste per person — nearly 500 kg per year — Estonia remains a bit below the average of EU. Larger volumes of municipal waste per person are characteristic of Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.
In 2008 the impacts of economic recession did not concern the social area very much. Probably the majority of negative impacts will appear in 2009 and 2010. At the same time it can be presumed that economic difficulties that have reached the labour market already will, through an indirectly forced growth in efficiency, establish more sustainable basis for social areas in the longer perspective
Source: Statistics Estonia.