Over 300 Estonian companies still export to Russia

Narva border crossing.
Narva border crossing. Source: Dmitri Fedotkin/ERR

Estonian exports to Russia have declined dramatically since 2019, although there are still companies in Estonia doing business with Russia.

According to the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA), about 1,000 Estonian companies shipped items to Russia in 2019. Exports to Russia declined dramatically after 2022, when Russia began a war in Ukraine and the European Union imposed sanctions on many categories of goods.

The number of Estonian companies exporting goods that are not currently subject to sanctions has also decreased by almost three times, Valeri Rauam, head of the customs department at the MTA, said.

"Comparing the volumes of the first half of this year with the volumes of the first half of 2019, the number of companies exporting goods to Russia has dropped to about 300 and the number of customs declarations filed has also dropped by nearly 50 percent," Rauam said.

These 300 entities are listed in the Estonian commercial register, and their customs declarations indicate that they are the shippers. The number of Latvian firms exporting to Russia has decreased by the same magnitude over the period.

Of the permitted categories of goods, Estonian companies mainly export foodstuffs, textiles and various equipment and vehicles, Rauam continued.

"One of the main categories of products for which the transitional period will end in September is vehicles, after which passenger cars of a certain capacity will no longer be allowed to be exported to Russia. Until now, there was a ban on luxury items, i.e., if a car cost €50,000 or more; however, exports to Russia will be banned on September 25 regardless of the price of the vehicle," he said.

Companies from other countries also export to Russia via Estonia; for example, companies from other nations export mushrooms to Russia. But their export volumes have also decreased considerably compared to a few years ago, Rauam said. 

"These volumes have fallen /.../ volumes by each product group are relatively small," he said.

There is no list of Estonian companies that have exported products to Russia that are subject to Russian sanctions. Andres Siplane, chief specialist of the Foreign Ministry's sanctions and strategic goods department, said that this information is accessible to the public through court rulings.

"The agenda of court hearings is published in the official gazette (Riigi Teataja - ed.), where you can learn which companies and individuals are presently being tried, as well as their cases. The details of those companies — they are very few in number — are immediately available. It's a two-minute job to find that out and so it doesn't make sense for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to keep a separate list of them," Siplane explained.

Siplane added that not all the infringers identified in court decisions may be Estonian companies. Non-public lists of sanction violators are also available to the various authorities handling the cases, Siplane said.

"However, until the company is found guilty by a court, these lists will not be made public," he added. And it has also happened, as the press has reported, that an Estonian company operates in another country and violates sanctions," he said, "And it has also happened, as the press has reported, that an Estonian company operates in another country has violated sanctions."


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Kristina Kersa

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