Foreign ministers to discuss Afghanistan and NATO’s future in Tallinn

On 19 April, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen presented the programme for the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, which will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, on 22 and 23 April. He highlighted as priorities the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, discussions on the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept, nuclear issues, missile defence, as well as NATO’s reform and enlargement.

A clear framework for transition to Afghan lead

On Afghanistan, the Secretary General reminded that the aim of the 46 nations contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is to move forward on transition to Afghan lead – a process that will take place when clear political and military conditions are in place, with the Afghans playing a key role.

“In Tallinn, we will take the next step, by agreeing on the principles and decision-making framework for transition,” he said.

The Secretary General also announced that the ISAF operation is still missing about 450 army and police trainers, and said he would encourage Foreign Ministers to see what they can do to free up these resources.

The discussion on Afghanistan will involve the Foreign Ministers of the 46 ISAF contributing nations, the Afghan Foreign Minister as well as representatives from the European Union and the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Addressing key aspects of NATO’s future

Another main point on the meeting’s agenda will be the process of reflection on a new Strategic Concept. NATO Ministers will be updated on the work of the Group of Experts and will discuss the way forward to the Lisbon Summit in November, where the Alliance will approve its new Strategic Concept.

Ministers will also address NATO’s nuclear policy. This will be a timely discussion in view of the important steps recently taken on nuclear issues, namely the new START Agreement between the US and Russia, the new US Nuclear Posture Review, and the Washington Summit on securing nuclear material.

“No decision will be taken in Tallinn on NATO’s nuclear policy,” said the Secretary General, “but I do think the principles of the NATO discussion are already clear: first, that no Ally will take unilateral decisions; second, that as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will need a nuclear deterrent.”

In addition to NATO’s nuclear policy, Ministers will discuss missile defence as a building block for the Lisbon Summit.

Also on the Tallinn agenda is NATO reform, including proposals for streamlining the Alliance’s Command Structure.

Supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to NATO: not if, but when

Finally, on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s request for the Membership Action Plan, the NATO programme of support to individual nations wishing to join the Alliance, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said: “It is not a matter of if, but when. The when is what Ministers will discuss in Tallinn.”

“The place and future of Bosnia-Herzegovina is in the Euro-Atlantic structures,” he added.

A final decision on whether the Ministerial Meeting will take place on 22 and 23 April, despite the ongoing air travel restriction, will be made on 20 April. It is currently still scheduled for these dates.

Source: www.nato.int

Producer price index increased in March

According to Statistics Estonia, in March 2010 the producer price index increased 0.2% compared to February and 1.2% compared to March of the previous year.

In March compared to the previous month the producer price index was more than average influenced by the increase in prices in the manufacture of chemical products and by the decrease in prices in the manufacture of beverages. Compared to March 2009 the prices increased most in production of wood products.

Change in the producer price index by economic activity, March 2010
Economic activity February 2010 –
March 2010, %
March 2009 –
March 2010, %
TOTAL 0.2 1.2
Energy supply 1.0 0.7
Mining 0.6 -2.7
Manufacturing 0.2 1.4

In March 2010 the export price index decreased 0.4% compared to February 2009 and increased 2.6% compared to March 2009.

In March compared to the previous month, the export price index was more than average influenced by the increase in prices in the manufacture of agricultural products, extraction of peat and production of food products and by the decrease in prices in the manufacture of metal products.

In March 2010 the import price index increased 1.0% compared to February 2009 and 8.6% compared to March 2009.

In March compared to the previous month, the import price index was more than average influenced by the increase in prices of wood, agricultural products, metals and metal products and mineral fuels.

Source: Statistics Estonia

The decrease of construction price index continues

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2010 the percentage change of the construction price index was -7.1% compared to the 1st quarter of 2009. The construction price index fell for five quarters in succession.

The fall of the construction price index in the 1st quarter was mainly influenced by the decrease in the labour costs. The price indices of building machines and building materials are also in the falling trend.

In the 1st quarter of 2010 compared to the 4th quarter of 2009, the change of the construction price index was -1.1%, mainly influenced by the decrease in the labour costs.

In the 1st quarter of 2010 the percentage change in the repair and reconstruction work price index was -1.1% compared to the 4th quarter of 2009 and -6.9% compared to the 1st quarter of 2009.

The calculation of the construction price index covers four groups of buildings — detached houses, blocks of flats, industrial buildings and office buildings, as well as office buildings covered by the repair and reconstruction work price index. The index expresses the change in the expenditures on construction taking into consideration the price changes of basic inputs (labour force, building materials and building machines).

Change in the construction price index, 1st quarter 2010
  4th Q 2009 –
1st Q 2010, %
1st Q 2009 –
1st Q 2010, %
TOTAL -1.1 -7.1
labour force -2.8 -13.1
building machines 0.0 -2.7
building materials -0.5 -5.0
Index of detached houses -0.9 -6.2
Index of blocks of flats -1.1 -7.1
Index of industrial buildings -1.0 -7.0
Index of office buildings -1.1 -7.4

 

Change in the repair and reconstruction work price index, 1st quarter 2010
  4th Q 2009 –
1st Q 2010, %
1st Q 2009 –
1st Q 2010, %
TOTAL -1.1 -6.9
labour force -2.3 -12.6
building machines 0.7 0.0
building materials -0.8 -4.4

Source: Statistics Estonia

Collection of foreign investor success stories

Enterprise Estonia has published a collection of success stories from foreign investors entitled ‘Foreign Investors in Estonia. 15 Case Studies.’ The English-language publication consists of 15 articles about foreign companies operating in different sectors in Estonia, where the companies’ representatives share their experiences and recommendations for doing business in Estonia.

The book emphasizes fields in which Estonia is looking for additional foreign investment.

“Practically all of the articles reiterate the five primary advantages Estonia offers: good location, stability, simple tax system, educated workforce and good access to decision-makers,” said Ele-Merike Pärtel, senior adviser with Enterprise Estonia’s Investment and Trade Development Division.

In the introduction, Steve Jürvetson, a venture capitalist with Estonian roots, writes that like many new start-up companies, Estonia as a country has taken a new approach to business above all with its e-solutions and notes that small and innovative states like Estonia can reap benefits from the recent global economic crisis. Joakim Helenius, who has been doing business in Estonia since 1993, says that small size can be more of an advantage than a drawback as long as a wise approach is taken. ABB Estonia’s long-serving director Bo Henriksson says that what he esteems about Estonians is that they are people of action instead of merely big plans. Skype came about in exactly the same way: Sten Tamkivi describes how four men laboured away for 6 months in one room and the result was that Skype had a million users two months after it was launched.

“The articles contain many such interesting examples but in addition to positives, it also talks frankly about problems and the message to the government,” said Pärtel.

The collection is meant above all to introduce Estonia’s business and investment environment in foreign countries and it is intended for distribution to potential major investors outside Estonia. For this reason, the articles are written in English, predominantly by Scott Diel, a journalist residing in Estonia. The book concludes with a short overview by Professor Urmas Varblane about foreign investments in Estonia. The book includes original photographs of the companies and their directors.

The following companies are featured in the book: Wendre, Trigon Capital, Cargotec, Balti Spoon, ABB, Skype, Stoneridge Electronics, Sorainen, Eesti Telekom, Bellus, A Le Coq, JELD-WEN, Ericsson, Vopak EOS and Swedbank.

To order a copy, contact the Enterprise Estonia Investment and Trade Development Division.

Source: Enterprise Estonia