Tunnel ticket 100 eur to compete with 12 eur ferry ticket

Competition between shipping companies has driven Tallinn-Helsinki ferry ticket prices down so much that a business plan based on a one-way ticket for the proposed Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel costing €100 is dubious, according to Tallink Group board chairman Paavo Nõgene.

Mr Nõgene does not believe that construction of the proposed Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel will begin anytime soon, according to an interview with regional daily Tartu Postimees.

He also considers it unrealistic to charge €100 for one-way passage via the tunnel while ferry tickets are so cheap due to stiff competition.

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Net profit of Eesti Energia increases to 106 mEUR in 2018

The sales revenue of state-owned energy company Eesti Energia grew by 16% on year to €875 million in 2018, while the company’s net profit rose by 5% to €106 million.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) amounted to €283 million, which is 7% more than the year before, Eesti Energia said.

Andri Avila, the company’s chief financial officer, called the result “satisfactory”.

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Commercial registers of Estonia, Finland starting on data exchange

Secretary-general at the Ministry of Justice, Tõnis Saar, and director general of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office, Antti Riivari, signed an agreement on Tuesday on the exchange of data between the commercial registers of Estonia and Finland from here on in.

Under the agreement, Estonia and Finland will open their commercial registers for a data exchange that includes all the information typically sent to the authorities of their own country.

On the Estonian side, the authority thus gaining access is the Tartu County Court’s department of registers, and on the Finnish side the Patent and Registration Office. Only individuals tasked with processing the data and who need it for the performance of their daily duties will have access to the information of the other side, and no data will be forwarded to third parties, the ministry said in a press release.

The preparations for the launch of the automatic data exchange have been completed, the x-Road systems of Estonia and Finland have been linked and the proper functioning of services has been tested, the ministry added.

In May 2016 the prime ministers of both countries signed a joint declaration on data exchange and exchanges of e-services between Estonia and Finland. A similar exchange is already ongoing between the Estonian and Finnish tax authorities.

Source: ERR News

Chinese fund to invest 15 bEUR in Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel

China’s Touchstone Capital Partners is prepared to invest altogether €15 billion in the undersea tunnel project linking the Estonian capital Tallinn and the Finnish capital Helsinki, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on Friday.

Touchstone and tunnel developer FinEst Bay Area Development, which is headed by businessman Peter Vesterbacka, signed a €15 billion memorandum of understanding on Thursday (March 7,2019), the daily wrote, adding that financial details would be negotiated over the next six months.

Touchstone will maintain a minority stake in the development company, while the majority stake will remain in Finland.

One-third of the agreed-upon funding will come as private equity investment and two-thirds as debt financing. The fund is planning to use Chinese infrastructure project One Belt One Road for financing the tunnel.

A financing structure was also established with the Chinese fund that will enable other investors to join the tunnel project. The greater the holding of other investors becomes, the smaller Touchstone’s stake will become, Helsingin Sanomat added.

Kustaa Valtonen, one of the founders of FinEst Bay Area, emphasised that the agreement reached “does not mean that €15 billion is deposited into our account at the beginning of next year. The money will be collected when it is needed.”

According to Mr Valtonen, he is very pleased with the agreement reached.

“Touchstone has extensive experience in financing similar large private infrastructure projects,” he said. “Our goal is to secure European, Nordic and Finnish capital investments as well in addition to the already agreed financing arrangement. We are looking for a sustainable and fully balanced financing solution for the project.”

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Goods have become 1.5 pct and services 4.9 pct more expensive

According to Statistics Estonia, in January 2019 compared to December 2018, the change of the consumer price index was –0.2% and compared to January of the previous year, 2.7%.

Goods were 1.5% and services 4.9% more expensive compared to January 2018. Regulated prices of goods and services have risen by 4.0% and non-regulated prices by 2.3% compared to January of the previous year.

Compared to January 2018, the consumer price index was affected the most by housing, which contributed nearly half of the total increase. Of the latter, half was contributed by 18.1% more expensive electricity that reached homes and one-sixth by 19.8% more expensive solid fuels. Motor fuels were cheaper in January 2019 compared to January 2018. Petrol was 5.4% and diesel fuel 3.5% less expensive than a year ago. The biggest year-on-year price increases among food products were seen for fresh vegetables (27%), potatoes (25%) and ready-made meals (14%), and the biggest price decreases were seen for sugar (20%), fresh fruit (11%) and eggs (11%).

Due to continuously changing consumption pattern of the population and prices, Statistics Estonia updates the weights system of the consumer price index and the representative goods every year.

In 2019, the weights system of the consumer price index corresponds to the average expenditure structure of the population in 2018. The base prices used for calculations are December prices of the year 2018. To ensure comparability with previous periods, the consumer price index is continued to be published on the base 1997 = 100. The linking month is December 2018.

Change of the consumer price index by commodity groups, January 2019
Commodity group Weight 2018, ‰ Weight 2019, ‰ December 2018 – January 2019, % January 2018 – January 2019, %
TOTAL 1000.0 1000.0 -0.2 2.7
Food and non-alcoholic beverages 227.4 217.9 0.8 1.7
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco 66.2 61.0 0.8 5.1
Clothing and footwear 55.8 54.6 -4.8 2.6
Housing 139.7 140.6 1.3 8.8
Household goods 62.4 62.0 0.9 2.1
Health 54.0 55.0 0.2 2.7
Transport 146.2 151.7 -2.7 -2.8
Communications 44.1 47.9 -0.4 -4.8
Recreation and culture 89.1 92.5 -0.8 5.3
Education 11.6 10.8 2.4 7.2
Hotels, cafés and restaurants 47.2 48.3 0.3 4.6
Miscellaneous goods and services 56.3 57.7 0.5 3.7

Statistics Estonia publishes the consumer price index on the fifth working day of each month, after the end of the reporting period. For the statistical activity “Consumer price index”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Finance, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for conducting the statistical activity.

The number of Finns staying at the hotels decreased by 9 pct

According to Statistics Estonia, 3.6 million domestic and foreign tourists stayed in the accommodation establishments of Estonia in 2018, i.e. 1% more than in 2017. The number of domestic tourists increased and the number of foreign tourists decreased.

Last year, 1.45 million domestic tourists and 2.14 million foreign tourists used the services of accommodation establishments. There were 4% more domestic tourists and 1% less foreign tourists staying in accommodation establishments than in 2017. The number of Finnish tourists, who accounted for 39% of the total number of foreign tourists in accommodation establishments, decreased by 9% compared to 2017. The number of tourists from several European Union countries increased, and there were also more tourists from Russia and Asian countries. 70% of the foreign tourists who stayed in accommodation establishments were on holiday, 23% on a business trip and the rest had some other reason for visiting Estonia. 64% of domestic tourists were on a holiday trip and 23% on a business trip.

In December 2018, 152,000 foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, which is 3% fewer than in December 2017. Compared to December 2017, the number of tourists arriving from Finland and Russia decreased by 11% and 6%, respectively. 11% more tourists came from Latvia, and there were also more tourists from several other European countries – Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany. 77% of the foreign tourists preferred to stay in accommodation establishments in Tallinn. 7% of the foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments in Pärnu city and 5% in Tartu city. 67% of foreign tourists were on a holiday trip and 26% on a business trip.

In December, 121,000 domestic tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, i.e. 7% more than in December 2017. 64% of domestic tourists were on a holiday trip and 23% on a business trip. 30% of the accommodated domestic tourists stayed in accommodation establishments in Harju county, 15% in both Pärnu and Tartu counties.

950 accommodation establishments offered their services in December. 20,000 rooms and 45,000 bed places were available for tourists, and 43% of the rooms and 35% of the bed places were occupied. The average cost of a guest night was 40 euros, i.e. three euros more than in December 2017.

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Profit of the business sector increased by 4 pct in 2018

According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, in 2018, the total profit of the business sector was 2.9 billion euros, which is 4% more than the year before.

Compared to 2017, total profit increased in most of the economic activities. Manufacturing and trade enterprises contributed the most to the total profit of the business sector. Profit growth in the sector was slowed down mainly by administrative and support services and construction enterprises. The profit of manufacturing increased by approximately a fifth compared to 2017, mainly due to an increase in profits in the manufacture of metal products, fuel oil, machinery and equipment, and construction materials.

In 2018, enterprises sold goods and services for 61 billion euros, which is 10% more than the year before. The biggest increase in turnover occurred in real estate and agriculture, forestry and fishing activities. The turnover of trade and manufacturing enterprises, which have the biggest share in the total turnover of the business sector, increased 9% and 7%, respectively.

Compared to 2017, the total expenditure of enterprises increased 11%, including 10% increase in labour costs. The number of persons employed and the number of hours worked increased 3% and 1%, respectively. In 2018, the labour productivity of the business sector on the basis of net value added amounted to an average of 23,900 euros per person employed, i.e. 5% more than in 2017.

In 2018, enterprises invested 2.3 billion euros, which is the same as the year before. As in 2017, the investments were made mostly in machinery and equipment and in buildings. The main investors were manufacturing, energy and trade enterprises, accounting for nearly a half of the total investments of all enterprises. Compared to 2017, the investments in buildings and in machinery and equipment increased. Other investments decreased, the biggest decrease was in investments in transport equipment.

In the 4th quarter of 2018, enterprises sold goods and services for 16.2 billion euros, which is 12% more than in the same period of 2017. In the 4th quarter of 2018, enterprises invested 789 million euros, i.e. 17% more than in the 4th quarter of 2017.

Source: Statistics Estonia
See a graph here

Salaries increased by 7.3 pct in a year

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2018, the average monthly gross wages and salaries of enterprises, institutions and organisations were 1,310 euros, having increased by 7.3% compared to 2017. The average monthly gross wages and salaries increased in all economic activities, being the highest in the 2nd and 4th quarters.

In 2017, the annual increase in the average monthly gross wages and salaries was 6.5%, while in 2018, the growth increased slightly, being at the same level as in 2016. In 2018, the annual increase in the average monthly gross wages and salaries was the slowest in the 2nd quarter (6.4%), accelerating near the year-end. Real wages, which take into account the influence of the change in the consumer price index, increased slower in comparison with 2017 than the monthly gross wages and salaries, which was due to growing consumer prices. Compared to 2017, real wages rose by 3.7%. In 2018, real wages increased 0.7 percentage point faster than in the previous year.

In 2018, compared to the previous year, irregular bonuses and premiums increased 25% per employee. The average monthly gross wages and salaries excluding irregular bonuses and premiums increased 6.5%. Irregular bonuses and premiums affected the year-over-year increase in average monthly gross wages and salaries by 0.8 percentage points.

In 2018, the average monthly gross wages and salaries continued to be the highest in information and communication (2,172 euros) and in financial and insurance activities (2,154 euros), and the lowest in accommodation and food service activities and other service activities.

Compared to 2017, the average monthly gross wages and salaries increased the most in other service activities (incl. activities of organisations, repair of personal and household goods, services) and in arts, entertainment and recreation. The year-on-year growth in these economic activities is due to a change in Statistics Estonia’s wage statistics methodology, according to which since 2018 also non-profit organisations with less than 50 employees are included.

Additionally, the wages and salaries increased in education (13.1%), wholesale and retail trade (10.8%), water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (10.2%). The annual average monthly gross wages and salaries increased in all economic activities. The increase was the slowest in administrative and support service activities (1.2%).

In the public sector, including state and municipal institutions and enterprises, the average monthly gross wages and salaries amounted to 1,393 euros (year-over-year growth 10,1%), and in the private sector, including enterprises owned by Estonian and foreign private entities, to 1,283 euros (year-over-year growth 6.4%).

In 2018, by county, the average monthly gross wages and salaries continued to be the highest in Harju (1,455 euros) and Tartu (1,289 euros) counties and the lowest in Hiiu (944 euros) and Saare (987 euros) counties. The average monthly gross wages and salaries increased in all counties. The year-over-year growth in monthly gross wages and salaries was the fastest in Saare, Jõgeva and Rapla counties and the slowest in Võru county.

According to the Wages and Salaries Statistics Survey, in 2018, compared to the previous year, the number of employees converted to full-time units increased 5%. The number of employees in full-time units increased the most in other service activities, arts, entertainment and recreation activities and in real estate activities. The change in these three economic activities is largely due to the inclusion of non-profit organisations with less than 50 employees in the wages and salaries survey.

In 2018, the average monthly labour costs per employee were 1,756 euros and the hourly labour costs 11.61euros. Compared to 2017, the average monthly labour costs per employee increased 6.6%.

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37,700 unemployed in Estonia

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2018, the labour force participation rate was 71.9%, the employment rate was 68.1% and the unemployment rate was 5.4%. The number of long‑term unemployed was the lowest of the last 20 years.

In 2018, the annual average number of active persons in the labour market was 702,400, which is 3,600 more compared to 2017. The number of employed persons was 664,700, increasing by 6,100 compared the previous year. The annual average number of unemployed persons was 37,700, which is 2,600 less than in 2017.

Unemployment decreased in all age groups. The unemployment rate among 25–49-year-olds was 4.5% and among 50–74-year-olds it was 5.2%. One of the goals of Estonia 2020competitiveness strategy is bringing the unemployment rate among young people (15–24-year-olds) down to 10%. In 2018, the goal was not yet fulfilled, but the unemployment rate among young people decreased year-on-year, and was 11.8% in 2018. The European Union average unemployment rate in the 1st to 3rd quarter of 2018 stood at 7%, indicating that Estonia is among the countries with lower unemployment.

In 2018, the number of long-term unemployed (who have been looking for work for 12 months or longer) was 9,400, which is the lowest of the last 20 years. The last time that the number of long‑term unemployed was at a record low was in 2008. Compared to 2017, the number of long‑term unemployed decreased by 4,100 in 2018. The long-term unemployed are considered to have the highest risk of poverty among unemployed persons. The reason is that staying out of the labour market for a long time can have an impact on the person’s work skills and habits.

The number of inactive persons in the labour market continues to fall. In 2018, the number of inactive persons in the labour market was 274,300. The main reasons for being inactive were retirement (88,400), studies (65,000), illness or disability (59,800) and maternity or parental leave (26,000). The decrease in the number of inactive persons is affected by the Work Ability Reform as well as the increasing activity of retirement-aged persons in the labour market. It is also possible to provide data on persons available to work but not seeking by reason of inactivity. These are persons who are not actively looking for work but are available for work immediately if work was offered. There were 30,800 such persons in 2018. Among them, retirement-aged persons (7,300) and persons inactive due to illness or disability (7,600) were the most numerous.

Part-time working has become more popular. In recent years, the number of part‑time workers has been on constant increase. It reached a record-high number in 2018, with 82,000 part-time workers, which is 10,900 more compared to 2017. Women are the most likely to work part-time (54,700), and there were 27,300 men working part-time.

The number of underemployed persons has also increased. A person is underemployed if he/she works part-time but would like to work more and is available for additional work immediately (within two weeks). In 2018, the number of underemployed persons was 7,300, which is 2,600 more than in 2017.

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Exports increased by 12 and imports by 10 pct in 2018

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2018, the exports of goods increased by 12% and imports by 10% compared to 2017. The exports and imports of mineral products had the greatest impact on trade growth in 2018.

In 2018, the exports of goods from Estonia amounted to 14.4 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 16.2 billion euros at current prices. The trade deficit in 2018 was 1.8 billion euros, which is 69 million euros less compared to 2017. The largest surplus was in the trade in wood and articles of wood and miscellaneous manufactured articles (incl. furniture, prefabricated wood buildings); the largest deficit was registered in the trade in transport equipment and in raw materials and products of the chemical industry.

In 2018, the share of European Union countries in Estonia’s total exports was 68% and in total imports 78%. The trade deficit with other EU countries totalled 2.8 billion euros, which is 55 million euros less than in 2017. In trade with EU countries, exports increased by 6% and imports by 4%. Trade in goods with non-EU countries grew more – exports increased by 27% and imports by 37%. The trade surplus with non-EU countries was over 1 billion euros.

As in previous years, in 2018, electrical equipment was exported the most, accounting for 16% of Estonia’s total exports. Next came mineral products (15%) and wood and articles of wood (11%). The increase in exports was mostly affected by a rise in the exports of mineral products (up by 900 million euros), wood and articles of wood (up by 152 million euros) and mechanical appliances (up by 131 million euros). The biggest decrease in 2018 was recorded in the exports of agricultural products and food preparations.

The top destination countries of Estonia’s exports in 2018 were Finland (16% of Estonia’s total exports of goods), Sweden (11%) and Latvia (10%). Electrical equipment and base metals and articles of base metal were the main commodities exported to Finland; electrical equipment and wood and articles of wood were the main commodities exported to Sweden; mineral products, and agricultural products and food preparations were the main commodities exported to Latvia. The biggest increase occurred in exports to the USA, Singapore and Finland. The biggest decrease occurred in exports to Sweden, the Netherlands and Russia.

The share of goods of Estonian origin in total exports of goods was 72% in 2018. The exports of goods of Estonian origin increased by 12% and re-exports by 11% compared to 2017. In the exports of goods of Estonian origin, the greatest increase was in the exports of mineral products (incl. shale oil, solvent), wood and articles of wood (birch and pine pulpwood) and electrical equipment (data communication equipment). The main destination countries of goods of Estonian origin were Finland, Sweden and Germany. The biggest increase in the exports of goods of Estonian origin was in the exports to the USA and Singapore and the biggest decrease in the exports to Sweden.

The main commodities imported to Estonia were mineral products (15% of Estonia’s total imports of goods), electrical equipment (14%) and mechanical appliances, transport equipment, and agricultural products and food preparations (each 10%). The greatest increase was in the imports of mineral products (up by 1 billion euros), mechanical appliances (up by 208 million euros) and base metals and articles of base metal (up by 168 million euros).

The main countries of consignment in 2018 were Finland (13% of Estonia’s total imports of goods), Germany and Lithuania (10% each). From Finland, mineral products, and electrical equipment were imported the most. Transport equipment and mechanical appliances were imported the most from Germany, and mineral products and agricultural products and food preparations from Lithuania. The biggest year-on-year increase occurred in imports from Russia (up by 484 million euros), Belarus (up by 342 million euros) and Lithuania (up by 187 million euros), with the largest increase in the imports of mineral products. At the same time, imports decreased the most from Poland and the Netherlands.

Estonia exported goods to 183 countries and imported goods from 143 countries. A positive foreign trade balance was recorded in the case of 139 countries. The biggest surplus was recorded in trade with the USA, followed by Norway and Singapore. The biggest deficit was recorded in trade with Germany, Lithuania and Poland.

In December 2018, exports of goods from Estonia amounted to 1.1 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 1.3 billion euros. Compared to December 2017, exports increased by 6% and imports by 7%. In December 2018, the growth in exports and imports was affected the most by increase in the trade of mineral products.

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