CEO of Swedbank Estonia: Crisis here for manufacturing industry

Head of Swedbank Estonia Olavi Lepp.
Head of Swedbank Estonia Olavi Lepp. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The economic crisis has begun for a part of companies, especially in the manufacturing sector where Estonia's competitive ability is in jeopardy, head of Swedbank Estonia Olavi Lepp told Delfi's Ärileht in an interview.

"If last time [Covid crisis] it was the service sector that took the severest blow – tourism, restaurants and entertainment – the crisis has now moved into manufacturing and goods. The crisis is happening in another place. It has most definitely arrived for manufacturing businesses who are finding the situation more difficult than during the pandemic," Lepp told Ärileht.

"All sectors hit by inflation are at risk. Rather, it is about our competitive ability as a country. Our export relies on production and our prosperity in turn on export. It is hard to create value added trading with oneself. Export needs to bring in money," Lepp continued. "Layoffs will in turn impact consumption. /.../ We've also heard that food price hikes have not reached consumers in full. The consumption end could take another hit from there."

Lepp suggested that Estonia should have helped companies cover energy expenses as all neighboring countries are helping theirs, and Estonia's decision not to has left its companies at a disadvantage.

"We need to find the industries that sport a larger energy component and make a decision," Lepp said. "What are the strategic industries we want to have in Estonia. What will we do next year if we allow them to go under in a single winter? We have to import a part of strategic goods, while we stand to lose a good chunk of our exports. It is not sensible."

The Swedbank executive said individuals are still fine. It seems to me that energy support [for individuals] has helped and continues to help. As long as people have jobs, households will be fine. Inflation pressure is not so bad as to impact people's ability to service home loans. It seems households are coping. But we need to keep an eye on unemployment," he explained.

Estonia's annual inflation has been on the other side of 20 percent in recent months.


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