Some Estonian brands still using producers in Belarus

The Belarusian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia.
The Belarusian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Several Estonian producers continue to use production facilities in Belarus, despite the country's support for Russia's war in Ukraine and sanctions.

Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" explored what action companies that have historically produced their goods in Belarus have taken since February.

The program found some companies have changed suppliers, but not all of them.

Clothing brand Marat switched its production at the start of the summer. Before then, it worked with a factory in Belarus for a decade.

Raul Saks, manager of brands Sangar and Marat, said the war made working in Belarus "morally and physically impossible in every way". But it took a while to wind down proceedings,

"It is clear that production could not be closed on day one, there were products that were in the works, materials had been produced and purchased, gradually we stopped," said Saks.

Marat's velvet suits and dressing gowns are now produced in Pakistan.

Marat Jumpers. The company has moved its production to Pakistan after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Source: ERR

Even if sanctions are lifted, production will not shift back to Belarus, he said. Supply chains have now been created in Pakistan and the business is in a stronger position than it was before.

Software company Helmes also operated in Belarus for a decade but decided to relocate after the full-scale invasion started. Employees were offered relocation packages and 90 percent accepted.

"We opened offices in Poland and Georgia and we helped our workers through this difficult process. Whether it was with transportation, how to move their family to another country, finding a place to live, with all the paperwork. There were a lot of different problems, right up to receiving psychological help," Katariina Roosipuu, Helmes marketing manager, told AK.

However, listed company Silvano Fashion Group continues to own three factories in Belarus. The company declined to comment on the situation.

Timber company Kaamos Timber still produces lumber in Belarus. Company representatives declined to be interviewed by AK. But a said in a comment production is now directed at China rather than the EU.

Statistics Estonia refused to provide information about Estonian companies operating in Belarus citing legal confidentiality requirements.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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