Economic affairs committee chairman calls for creation of 'Team Estonia'

Rural Affairs Committee chairman Aivar Kokk (IRL).
Rural Affairs Committee chairman Aivar Kokk (IRL). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Chairman of the Riigikogu’s Economic Affairs Committee Aivar Kokk (IRL) recommends to create a so-called "Team Estonia." The mission of this unit, likely to be modeled on the similarly built Team Finnland across the gulf, would be to promote the Estonian industry and logistics sector abroad.

“The turnover of the logistics sector in Estonia has decreased by a factor of four compared to 2006,” Kokk said. “Creating conditions for business that are competitive with those in the neighboring countries, some 10 percent growth in the transit sector would mean a great economic gain for the state, and increase our export capacity more broadly,” he added.

Kokk said that today Estonia faced a situation where in the coming years, the state would need to subsidize the railway with up to €23 million a year.

Team Estonia would work to find freight volumes for Estonia’s existing and future transport networks as well as promote the production of its industry concentrating on sustainable energy production, Kokk said. As a first step towards establishing it, a meeting with state railway company AS Eesti Raudtee as well as businesses active in the Estonian transit sector is planned for March.

The clear aim of the meeting was to find a way to better sell Estonian transit services abroad, Kokk said.

Sulling: Minister in charge of developing foreign trade would make more sense

Former minister of trade and entrepreneurship, Anne Sulling (Reform), wrote in a comment in January this year that Finland had consolidated its efforts in foreign trade, foreign investment, and tourism in a state-owned company, Finpro.

A bit like Enterprise Estonia, Finpro employs 240 people, 31 of which work abroad. Its representatives are embassy residents and have clear targets in terms of developing foreign trade with the country they are in. To involve the ambassadors more, they are included in the responsibility to realize the company’s targets.

Team Finland, which brings all of the state’s related efforts together, coordinates all of this, supporting exporters, attracting foreign investors, and marketing Finland internationally. This is directed from the office of the prime minister, and hence given top priority.

Sulling wrote that there were people in Estonia that thought the model should be copied, and a Team Estonia created. Sulling herself suggested a different approach, quoting a Team Finland representative who told her that their aim, namely the consolidation of state efforts, was Estonia’s starting point. Enterprise Estonia was already taking care of that.

But if Estonia had a minister in charge of developing foreign trade, who could better direct Enterprise Estonia and coordinate efforts among the members of the government, parliament, and other institutions, then an independent structure beyond the existing one wouldn’t be needed, Sulling wrote.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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