Belarus buys second-hand cars from Estonia

Second-hand car dealers from Belarus have become the main buyers of cars in Estonia, mostly interested in cars that cost between EUR 5,000 and 15,000, writes Eesti Päevaleht daily.

The reason why Belarus businessmen are interested in Estonian second-hand cars is the customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan that will enter into force in July and increase the tax on imported cars from 30 eurocents a cubic centimeter to one euro.

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Estonia has a high Internet freedom

The US organisation Freedom House placed Estonia among countries of the highest internet freedom. Freedom House studied the situation of internet freedom in 37 countries. The organisation focused its attention on access to the internet, internet limitations, and internet users’ violations.

In addition to Estonia, the organisation classified the United States, Germany, Australia, Great Britain, Italy, the Republic of South Africa, and Brazil among countries with free internet use.

Kenya, Mexico, South Korea, Georgia, Nigeria, Malaysia, India, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Russia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and Pakistan are countries of partial internet freedom according to Freedom House.

Thailand, Bahrain, Belarus, Ethiopia, Saudi-Arabia, Vietnam, Tunisia, China, Cuba, Myanmar and Iran were placed among non-free countries.

Estonia took part in the study for the third year running and Freedom House has previously also found Estonia to be a country with free internet. According to Freedom House, Estonia does not have considerable political censorship, no internet users or bloggers have been arrested, and no web 2.0 applications have been blocked. In the opinion of the organisation, Estonia is among the technologically most developed and interneticized world countries.

Freedom House said in the part of its report pertaining to Estonia that the first internet link in the country was opened in 1992 and since then Estonia had become a country where use of the internet was the widest.

The organisation pointed out that the limitations set to the internet in Estonia were some of smallest in the world and that there was no censorship of any kind.

As the only limitation the organisation pointed out the act on the protection of personal information, as well as the act that entered into force in 2010 which obliges organisers of remote gambling to apply for a license of the Tax and Customs Board. Freedom House also mentioned the cyberattacks against Estonia in spring 2007. The organisation said that there had been no attacks against internet journalists in Estonia but added that internet comments sometimes crossed the limit of good taste.

Freedom House said in comment of the study that dangers to internet freedom were growing in the world. Among the most considerable dangers the organisation mentioned cyberattacks, political censorship, and government control over internet infrastructure.

Freedom House, based in New York, is a non-government organisation observing political and civil liberties in world countries. It also issues a yearly world press freedom report.

Source: Estonian Review

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Estonia intensifying ties with United Arab Emirates

Today in Abu Dhabi, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed an agreement for the protection of investments and the avoidance of double taxation between Estonia and the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that the United Arab Emirates are increasingly becoming a more important co-operation partner for Estonia in the Persian Gulf region, and relations with the country should be intensified. “In order to achieve this we will name an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and begin holding regular political consultations. We would also like to strengthen trade relations,” he added.

Paet stated that we also must continue working to reduce the visa requirements for Estonian citizens travelling to the United Arab Emirates, since the UAE is becoming a more popular tourist destination for Estonian citizens.

Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that Estonia is an interesting partner for the United Arab Emirates in Northern Europe, with whom they would be interested in strengthening relations.

At their meeting, Paet and Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan also addressed matters related to the Estonian citizens abducted in Lebanon and the minister confirmed that the United Arab Emirates is prepared to help Estonia if possible.

Source: Estonian Review

OECD: Estonia has handled the economic crises well

On April 18 the deputy director of the OECD’s country studies branch Robert Ford introduced the economic review prepared by the Economic Development Review Committee (EDRC) of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which gives a thorough overview of Estonia’s economic situation.

According to the review, Estonia has shown remarkable determination in economic matters. Recovery from the economic crisis has been extensive. In spite of the economic crisis, the state’s budget position did not significantly deteriorate and Estonia became a member of the euro zone. Many of the recommendations made in the review are already being implemented by Estonia today. For example, one recommendation is to utilise the individual training card system more in re-training the unemployed, which Estonia is already doing.

Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi stated that the OECD’s analysis is very important to Estonia due to the organisation’s authority in the field and the fact that it generally draws attention to all the right things. “We are very similar in our basic viewpoints, and neither side has experienced big surprises while working together. But, as always with such substantive co-operation, there is also room to argue some recommendations,” stated Finance Minister Ligi.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the OECD economic review gives us an opportunity to look deep into Estonia’s economy. “These regularly compiled reviews allow us to see a neutral view of the economic situation and examine which areas we could change for the better,” stated Foreign Minister Paet. “The OECD, which has the goal of supporting global economic development and expanding world trade, offers good opportunities for further development to Estonia as well,” he added.

The review addresses the period in which Estonia was getting out of the economic crisis and makes proposals for ensuring a stable and sustainable recovery. The review closely examines efforts to recover from the economic crisis, fiscal policy, efficiency in government operations, and globalisation.

The OECD found that Estonia needs to avoid cyclical unemployment becoming structural and improve the framework of bankruptcy procedures to deal with nonperforming loans. The organisation also highlighted Estonia’s continued strong budget position. The Baltic country has never been set under the European Union’s excessive deficit procedure and its public debt is the lowest among OECD member states. In addition, the report commented that the Estonian healthcare system functions quite well but there is room for increasing its effectiveness.

The goal of the review is to contribute to the country’s economic policy discussion, through which suitable solutions will be found for supporting economic development. The recommendations are based on the experiences of OECD members and are not meant to be fulfilled to the letter.

This is the second review of Estonia’s economy by the OECD. The previous one was introduced in April of 2009. The OECD prepares economic overviews of its member states every two years.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonia scores high on the Internet Freedom Index

The number of people with access to the internet has more than doubled in the past five years to over two billion. Many governments have responded with regulation and repression, according to a  report published on April 18th by Freedom House, which assigns countries an internet freedom score. Nine of the 15 countries that the Washington-based think-tank assessed in 2009 fared worse this year, among them Iran, Tunisia and China. On the plus side, citizens are growing increasingly adept at sidestepping these threats to their internet freedoms, and the use of social media did much to galvanise political opposition across the Arab world in recent months. Indeed web-users in some countries, such as Georgia and Estonia, have more freedom now than they did two years ago.

Source: The Economist