On Monday 28 January, Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser briefed the Economic Development Committee of the government on the outcomes of business diplomacy of the past year, plans for the current year and long-term goals until 2030. The work of diplomats and foreign representations over the past year indicate an increase in both the interest of Estonian entrepreneurs in foreign markets as well as the interest of foreign countries in Estonian products and services.
According to Foreign Minister Mikser, business diplomacy has increasingly become a focus of foreign policy, aiming to inform our businesses of cooperation opportunities abroad, help them meet their export targets, and attract foreign investments to Estonia. “Foreign countries are interested in cooperating with Estonia mainly in the digital and innovation-related fields. For example, with help from our diplomats, Estonian IT companies are now sharing their experiences and knowledge in 17 African states with a total of 37 projects,” Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said.
Exports have gone up in recent years. Our neighbours and larger markets such as Germany and the United States remain our main partners. Last year, Estonian entrepreneurs contacted our embassies on 780 occasions, an increase of 34% compared to the previous year. Foreign companies indicated an interest in Estonia on 1 744 occasions, a 21% increase compared to 2017. “These results demonstrate that in addition to our entrepreneurs successfully tapping into the knowledge of foreign representations and honorary consuls to open doors to new markets, Estonia’s prominence and reputation abroad have also grown,” the foreign minister noted.
This year, we will highlight the business diplomacy aspect of the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs even more. Two new foreign representations will be opened for that purpose; one on the West Coast of the United States and the other in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. We are also increasingly using the online environment visiidid.ee, made with help from Enterprise Estonia, giving entrepreneurs an updated overview of the geographical directions of Estonia’s business diplomacy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also create a new tool called Smart Export for importing businesses. It will include databases regarding the conditions for entering markets, market research and economic indicators as well as the broader political background of any given country. We will also organise discussions on how to use Estonian communities and the network of honorary consuls more efficiently in business diplomacy.
Estonia has 45 foreign representations across the world; four of them have a full-time business diplomat on staff and in the remaining representations business diplomacy is part of the official duties of the staff.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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