Estonian farming entrepreneurs welcome in Belarus

Belarus is waiting for Estonian farming entrepreneurs, who will be offered cheap land and other easy terms for investment, says Agriculture Minister Helir-Valdor Seeder, the first member of the Estonian Cabinet to visit the Slavic state.
According to Seeder, his Belarusian colleague Semen Shapiro showed great interest in the inflow of foreign investment and the country is especially interested in agricultural investments, the Ministry of Agriculture said.
The parties see opportunities for development in trade, too. The movement of food and other farming products between the two countries surged over the past year. In the first half of this year Estonia exported goods worth 57.7 million kroons (EUR 3.7 mln) to Belarus. The volume of export at the same time last year was 35.4 million kroons.
Import from Belarus has seen even stronger growth, soaring from six million kroons in 2008 to 65.1 million kroons in the first half of this year.
Seeder said Estonia and Belarus are both clearly export-oriented, so the prospects of further growth of trade are good.

Source: Estonian Review


EU and Brazil reach agreement on visa freedom

During the European Union-Brazil summit in Stockholm on Tuesday, the European Union and Brazil approved the text of a visa freedom agreement, which when implemented will allow the citizens of Estonia and the other EU member states to visit Brazil for tourism or business purposes without a visa. The agreement should come into effect in 2010, after its official signing and ratification by Brazil’s Parliament.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet acknowledged the fundamental approval of the agreement and expressed hope that visa freedom would begin in 2010. “Some formalities must still be covered, but the discussion of the content of the agreement has ended today,” said Paet. Paet stated that it has taken quite a bit of time to achieve visa freedom for Estonian citizens to Brazil. “Visa-free travel to Brazil for tourism and business purposes is a long-awaited opportunity for Estonian citizens,” he added.
The foreign minister expressed gratitude to the foreign minister of the EU Presidency Sweden Carl Bildt as well as the European Commission, whose co-operation helped to wrap up the drawn-out negotiations with Brazil. “This agreement demonstrates that the common European visa policy works in the interest of small nations as well and provides clear results,” emphasised Paet.
The foreign minister said that the Brazil agreement has symbolic significance. “For Estonia, this marks the final chapter in reciprocal visa negotiations. This means that after the agreement goes into effect Estonia will have achieved visa freedom with all the nations that have reciprocal visa freedom with all the other European Union countries,” Paet asserted. “We have also gained visa freedom for our citizens to, for example, the United States, Australia and Canada,” said Paet.
Upon accession to the European Union, the European Community regulation 539/2001/EC was applied to Estonia; the regulation prescribes the list of nations whose citizens are ensured visa freedom and of nations whose citizens require visas. Since many nations on the positive list, such as Australia, Canada, the USA, Brazil, and Singapore did not allow visa freedom for citizens of the new member states, a situation arose in which the new member states were required to allow visa-free travel for many countries without receiving it in return. To ensure the equal treatment of citizens of the EU, the reciprocal visa policy was implemented in the European Union. Every year the European Commission reports on nations that member states have problems with in terms of reciprocal visas and offers possible solutions. The fifth visa reciprocity report will be presented in October of this year.

Source: Estonian Review

Price of goods cheaper, services more expensive

According to Statistics Estonia, the consumer price index decreased 1.6% in September 2009 compared to September of the previous year and 0.2% compared to August 2009.

Compared to the same month of the previous year, the consumer price index decreased for the first time by more than 1%. In September goods were 3.7% cheaper and services 2.3% more expensive compared to September of the previous year. From goods food products were 5.1% and manufactured goods were 2.4% cheaper.

Regulated prices of goods and services have risen by 2.2% and non-regulated prices fallen by 2.8% compared to September of the previous year.

Compared to September of the previous year, the consumer price index was mainly influenced by the price decrease of food and motor fuel that were respectively 6.9% and 11.4% cheaper than at the same time a year ago. Milk and dairy products (price decrease 15.9%) as well as fruits and vegetables gave more than two fifths of the impact of food on the index. Fruits were 15% and vegetables 19.8% cheaper than a year ago.

In September compared to August, the consumer price index was mainly influenced by the 1.4% price decrease of food, of which nearly a half was caused by the seasonal price decrease of vegetables and nearly a fifth by the 6.2% price decrease of bread. The consumer price index was also more notably influenced by the end of sales and by coming on the market of new seasonal clothing and footwear and also by the price decrease of motor fuel.

Change of the consumer price index by commodity groups, September 2009
Commodity group September 2008 –
September 2009, %
August 2009 –
September 2009, %
TOTAL -1.6 -0.2
Food and non-alcoholic beverages -6.6 -1.3
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco -0.7 -0.6
Clothing and footwear 1.5 3.5
Housing 0.5 0.4
Household goods 2.9 0.2
Health 2.8 0.0
Transport -5.5 -0.6
Communications 0.6 0.0
Recreation and culture -0.6 -0.1
Education 2.2 0.9
Hotels, cafés and restaurants -2.6 -0.8
Miscellaneous goods and services 8.1 -0.3

Source: Statistics Estonia