The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made a proposal to the government to open embassies in Singapore and South Korea already this year.
The ministry's proposal to open embassies in Singapore and the South Korean capital city of Seoul may be discussed during the government's sitting on Thursday.
The staff at both embassies would be made up of employees from Tallinn and those hired locally.
The funds for opening the embassies, renting the premises and providing accommodation for the employees will be allocated from the sums earmarked by the government for strengthening business diplomacy.
When the two foreign representations have opened, Estonia can also raise the topic of establishing the embassies of Singapore and South Korea in Tallinn on a reciprocal basis, spokespeople for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, adding that opening an embassy in Seoul is important in terms of strengthening both bilateral relations as well as relations with the Asian region more broadly.
Spokespeople for the ministry said: "A presence in South Korea will help us increase our awareness of the region and also actively introduce to South Korea Estonia's positions as well as the topics we deem important. Opening an embassy entails an important business diplomacy dimension, it helps boost economic relations and support Estonian entrepreneurs' entry into the Korean market."
Opening an embassy in Singapore serves the purpose of strengthening economic relations and supporting Estonian businesses' entry into the market of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The ministry deems it necessary to enhance political, diplomatic and sector-specific relations with Singapore, which is one of the region's most important economic and political hubs, the spokespeople said, adding that Estonia's representation in Singapore as well as in southeastern Asia has so far been sparse. In addition to improving economic diplomacy, the embassy will also provide services and consular assistance to Estonian nationals.
During the first nine months of 2019, revenue from trade with South Korea amounted to nearly €90 million, placing it 28th among Estonia's trade partners. South Korea was 33rd among Estonia's export partners and 26th among importers.
The volume of trade between Estonia and Singapore grew to €274 million in 2018. Among Estonia's trade partners, Singapore places 20th, and exports to Singapore account for 1.9 percent of all Estonia's exports.
Editor: Helen Wright