Russian, Belorussian opposition launching TV channel in Estonia

Russian and Belorussian opposition leaders are set to launch a Russian-language TV channel in Estonia, tasked with fighting against Kremlin propaganda in Eastern Europe.

The station will initially air online three times a week, but is planning to expand in April, Delfi reported.

The station is being bankrolled by the Danish government’s MyMedia program.

“Aru.tv is aimed at people in Russia and the Russian-speaking populations of the Baltic nations, Ukraine and Belarus. The main goal of the people behind the project is to offer propaganda-free information,” Pavel Morozov, one of the founders of the station, said. It is his second attempt at such an idea.

Artemy Troitsky, a Russian music critic who recently moved to Tallinn due to his anti-Kremlin views, is also heavily involved.

ERR, the public broadcaster, has unveiled plans for its own Russian-language television station, which should launch in September.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

E-residency most popular among Finns and Russians

As of mid-January, Estonia had issued e-residency to 463 of the 650 applicants. The number of e-residents should be above 500 by now.

Estonian interior minister Hanno Pevkur said that the largest number of new e-residents came from Finland (239), followed by Russia (118), Latvia (39), the US (36) and the UK (24).

“We have also received applications from Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Mexico. It has gone rather well. Once we start to issue the digital ID cards in embassies, the number should increase much faster,” he said.

People who wish to apply for e-residency must currently travel to Estonia for a short period of time.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

Lithuania asks World Bank to reclassify Baltic states as developed countries

Lithuania’s Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius has once again called upon the World Bank’s president to upgrade the status of the three Baltic states in this institution from emerging to developed countries.

Since the restoration of independence in the early 1990s, the World Bank had been a steady and important supporter of the efforts made by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in order to reorganize and strengthen the region in economic and political terms, the minister said at a meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Read more from Delfi.lt

Russian customs confiscates food on border

Russian authorities confiscate tens or hundreds of kilograms of food each day at the Ivangorod border checkpoint, just across the river from Narva, a Russian site reported.

Rosselkhoznadzor, the federal veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance board, confiscated 31 kilograms of dairy products, 27 kg of cheese and 25 kg of sausages from one car alone at the beginning of the week, 47news.ru reported.

The next day authorities found 174 kilograms of meat and dairy products from one vehicle and 36 kg of meat products from a second car.

All food was sent back to Estonia.

Narva serves as a economic out post for the West. Last summer Russian flocked to Narva, with even bus tours from St. Petersburg organized, to shop for food in Narva, after Russia banned all food imports from Western nations.

A few months later Narva residents flocked to Russia to buy consumer goods as the ruble plummeted.

Source: ERR News

New Nordic Country – Reform Party’s idea for Estonia’s new vision

Estonia must become a New Nordic Country, ie a world leader in terms of personal and economic freedoms, a country with a Nordic standard of living and level of safety, while being socially and technologically more dynamic and flexible than the “old” Nordic countries, Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said at the Reform Party convention on Saturday.

“Our vision of Estonia – a New Nordic Country – is a state well protected, economically successful, ensuring equal opportunities, valuing the family and championing European values. New Nordic Country is the big narrative for Estonia – a better protected, richer and growing nation,” Roivas said.

“We have quite good prerequisites to make it – already now Estonia is in the absolute top globally in many areas,” Roivas said, naming good education levels of the population, good business climate and low public debt as prerequisites for economic growth.

Read more from BBN

China could be interested in Estonian dairy products

Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling has described the words recently said by the prime minister of China as regards China’s interest toward Estonian products as giving hope, yet added that to her knowledge Estonian dairy companies have not been included in the list of approved producers of China’s import inspection service.

“What the Chinese prime minister said is certainly encouraging and gives hope that it will be soon possible for Estonian dairy producers to export their products to China. The director general of the Veterinary and Food Board, Ago Partel, however has said that as of the present moment Estonian dairy companies have not been included in the list of the Chinese service for the import of raw materials of animal origin and food import quarantine where the names of all the countries and businesses accepted as trading partners are published,” Sulling told BNS.

Sulling observed that inclusion of Estonian dairy sector companies in the list is a prerequisite for allowing their products on the Chinese market. “The [Veterinary and Food] Board presented an application to that effect along with a filled-out detailed preliminary questionnaire to their Chinese colleagues already in May last year. The statement by the prime minister of China gives hope that our dairy companies will indeed soon be included in that list too. For sure opening of the Chinese market would expand opportunities for Estonian dairy producers to sell their products on faraway markets. The more markets there are open for Estonia, the better,” the minister said.

Estonian exports to China in the first nine months of this year amounted to 101.1 million euros, which is 42.7 percent more than in the same period a year ago. Total exports by Estonia in the nine-month period meanwhile dropped 3.3 percent year on year to 8.94 billion euros.

Imports from China declined 4.9 percent to 354.7 million euros. Total import by Estonia contracted 2.6 percent to 10.12 billion euros in January-September 2014.

The main items Estonia exports to China are machinery and equipment, accounting for 26 percent of total, wood and wood products, 13 percent, and mineral products, 9 percent. Of goods moving in the opposite direction machinery and mechanical equipment make up 61 percent, textile and textile products 10 percent and metal and metal products 6 percent.

The Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, has said the country’s doors are open for Estonian products and the relationship between the two countries is in a fresh starting point.

“Doors of the Chinese market are open for Estonian products. According to our statistics trade between China and Estonia increased in 2011 as well as in 2012. In 2013 Estonia’s exports to China even grew by 50 percent. It shows that trade between China and Estonia is moving towards a bigger balance,” Li told Eesti Paevaleht.

Li said that the Chinese-Estonian relationship is in a fresh starting point. Estonia has high quality dairy products and bottled water which could attract Chinese consumers with medium or high income. He added that Chinese agricultural and quality inspection institutions are inspecting Estonian producers and the Chinese government is ready to support its companies in buying Estonian products.

Source: Baltic News Service throuh Estonian Review

Minister: EU-US free trade talks must be transparent

Speaking at a meeting of European Union trade ministers in Brussels on Friday, Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling said Estonia considers it important that progress in the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was made based on the negotiating guidelines agreed by the member states and that the negotiating process itself was as transparent as possible.

Sulling said that while the mandate for the talks and some of the EU positions have been made public already earlier, more information must be supplied in order for the public to be better informed about what is being negotiated, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Economy and Communications said.

“The free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States is very ambitious and embraces a wide variety of issues. To avoid potential misconceptions, one must be more open in the negotiating process than so far,” Sulling said.

As the Estonian minister said, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has confirmed that the free trade treaty between the EU and the United States is definitely a priority for the European Commission and the commissioner hopes to be able to give a new impetus to the negotiations, which all member states are expecting.

“Estonia backs an agreement that promises profound liberalization that is as wide-ranging as possible. We find that in addition to the European Union and the United States also other countries stand to gain from this agreement. If the two biggest global trade partners agree about rules between themselves, this will have a positive effect also on third countries as well as the global trade system,” Sulling said.

The impact from the EU-U.S. free trade treaty on the EU economy is estimated to total 100 billion euros annually. The direct and indirect impact on Estonia might be even bigger because of Estonia’s high degree of dependence on foreign trade. For Estonia the United States was the eighth biggest trading partner in 2013. Estonia’s exports to the United States in that year totalled 358 million euros, making up 2.9 percent of Estonia’s total exports.

Source: Estonian Review via BNS

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