Milk production increased for the fourth year in a row

According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, the production of milk amounted to 762,300 tons in 2013, which is 6% more than a year earlier. The number of dairy cows did not change compared to the previous year, but milk production per cow increased.

After a small decrease in 2009, the production of milk has increased every year compared to the previous year.

On 31 December 2013, the number of cattle in Estonia amounted to 261,700, of which 97,100 were dairy cows. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the number of cattle has increased by 6%, but the number of dairy cows has remained almost the same. The number of dairy cows has been in decline during the last decade, but has stabilised during the recent years. At the same time, the average milk production per cow has continually increased. In 2013, the average milk production per cow was 7,824 kilograms, i.e. 289 kilograms more than in 2012.

At the end of the year, there were 360,000 pigs and 82,700 sheep and goats in Estonia. The number of pigs decreased by 4% and the number of sheep and goats increased by 2% during the year.

In 2013, 187.1 million eggs were produced, which is 4% more than a year earlier. 117,700 tons (live weight) of livestock and poultry were slaughtered in holdings or sold for slaughter; the production of meat (live weight) increased by 2% compared to the previous year. The production of beef, mutton and goat meat decreased, while the production of pork and poultry meat increased.

Milk production per cow, 1993–2013

Diagram: Milk production per cow, 1993–2013

Source: Statistics Estonia

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Google pays USD 400m for a company linked to Jaan Tallinn

Google announced this week that it has paid USD 400m for a London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind, writes Äripäev.

The deal is relevant to Estonia because one of the investors and advisers of the company is Jaan Tallinn who is better known as one of the Estonian developers of Skype and Kazaa.

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20% of domestic payments are made between different banks

A notable feature of the Estonian payment environment is the large share of electronic payments. In the fourth quarter of 2013, 99.6% of all payments between banks were initiated electronically. An average of only 1100 payments per day were made in cash in bank offices, a number that was five times higher fifteen years ago.

The preferred payment method for Estonian residents continues to be card payments. Card payments accounted for 63% of all domestic payments in the fourth quarter, and over 610,000 card payments were made each day. The share of payments that are made by card has now been over 60% for three years. The number of payments made by card has also increased and in the last quarter of 2013 it was 7% higher than a year earlier.

Payments through an internet bank are the next most popular method of payment. In the fourth quarter of 2013, 21% of payments were made through an internet bank and an average of 210,000 were made each day, which is a tenth more than a year ago. Payments through internet banks have fallen as a share of payments by a couple of percentage points in the last three years.

The third most commonly used non-cash means of payment in Estonia is the direct debit, which includes e-invoice standing orders and made up 6% of all non-cash payments. In 2013 the banks in Estonia started to change over from direct debits to e-invoice standing orders. In the last quarter of 2012 an average of 55,000 payments were made each day by direct debit, but by the fourth quarter of 2013 the number had fallen to 42,600, while 15,100 payments were made each day with e-invoice standing orders. The migration from direct debits to e-invoice standing orders will end on 1 February when domestic direct debits will no longer be shown in the national statistics.

Payments within a single bank accounted for 78% of all domestic payments other than card payments in the fourth quarter of 2013, and 22% were interbank payments. The shares of payments that are within and between banks has barely changed for the last three years. One fifth of the total number and value of payments were made between banks using the ESTA retail payments system run by Eesti Pank. On 31 January ESTA will be closed down and after that, domestic interbank payments will be made through the pan-European STEP2 system run by EBA Clearing. Deadlines for interbank settlements will change as a result of this. Movements of funds from one bank to another will now take 3-5 hours and if a payment needs to be made on the same day, it will need to be made by 15.00 or 16.30, depending on the bank. Further information and answers to questions can also be obtained from the banks.

Source: Bank of Estonia

Author: Tiina Soosalu, Eesti Pank Payment and Settlement Systems Department

Standard & Poor’s affirms Estonia’s rating at AA-

The international rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has affirmed its long-term sovereign credit rating on Estonia at the present high level of AA- with stable outlook.

Estonia has the European Union’s lowest debt-to-GDP ratio, a stable political environment and a highly adaptable economy, the agency said.

Source: BBN

Viking Line CEO: reflagging to Estonia will save us millions

Mikael Backman, CEO of Viking Line explains that the ferry line decided to move its Viking XPRS ferry which services the Tallinn-Helsinki route from the Swedish registry to the Estonian one because of cost savings, writes Äripäev.

In an interview to Äripäev, Backman says that the move will create 200 jobs.

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Estonia ranked ahead of US in economic freedom index

Estonia climbed two places to 11th in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, reports ERR.

It is right before US which fell from 10th to 12th due to deteriorations in property rights, fiscal freedom and business freedom. It’s the first time in 20 years that the US was not in the top 10.

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Estonia had eurozone’s fastest inflation in December

Estonia had euro area’s highest annual inflation in December, at 2 percent, figures published by Eurostat show.

Estonia was followed by Austria and the United Kingdom, with also 2 percent, and Finland at 1.9 percent.

Source: BBN