Estonia delays participation decision in Osaka EXPO

Estonian pavilion at EXPO 2020 in Dubai.
Estonian pavilion at EXPO 2020 in Dubai. Source:

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Estonia has not yet decided whether to participate in the 2025 EXPO in Osaka, Japan, and there is no solution that is acceptable to all parties. However, the possibility that Estonia will not attend the EXPO is a source of concern for businesses, who view economic ties with Japan and a presence at the world's fair as crucial.

Estonia was invited to the 2025 Osaka EXPO as early as 2020, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs said that a decision would not be made until spring 2022, after the Dubai EXPO. A year has passed since then, but there is still no clarity on the issue.

Laura Laaster, head of public relations at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, told ERR that the ministry and the joint agency of EAS and Kredex base their decision on past experience with various EXPOs, the technical solutions proposed and budgetary considerations.

"Regarding the Osaka EXPO, unfortunately, no solution that works very well for all parties in collaboration with the EXPO organizer has emerged to date, which is why we are currently looking at the various options for participation and the associated budget requirements," she said.

Laaster added that a decision regarding Estonia's participation in the 2025 EXPO will be made shortly.

However, the government's reluctance causes concern among businesspeople. At the beginning of May, they sent a letter to the Minister of Economy Tiit Riisalo (Reform), expressing their surprise and worry and requesting the support for the EXPO.

The representatives of 24 companies, including Saku Brewery, the Estonian Chamber of Health Economy, Palmako, Skeleton Technologies, Balsnack, Mainor Business School, as well as the City of Tartu, said that participation in EXPO is crucial for all Estonian businesses, the Estonian image as a whole, and the international reputation of our digital nation.

In the letter, the companies emphasized that sustaining economic ties between Japan and Estonia is beneficial and important for Estonia and that Estonia's exports to Japan have increased even during difficult economic times. Since 2015, investment in local start-ups has also increased consistently.

"We are aware of the choices and opinions that have been expressed about the Estonian pavilion in the meantime, but we would like to reiterate, on behalf of entrepreneurs with experience in Japanese culture, that our presence, not the scale of the pavilion, is what is most important," the entrepreneurs said.

Riisalo has until June 2 to respond to the businesses' appeal.

Around a third of the costs of participating in the Dubai Expo 2020 were borne by Estonian private companies.

The Osaka World Expo will be held from April 13 to October 13, 2025. The exhibition area will be built on the Yumeshima artificial island near the coast of Osaka and will cover 155 hectares.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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