Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo (SDE) has filed a proposal to the government on the basis of which Estonia is applying for participation in the World Expo in Dubai in 2020 and the opening of an Estonian embassy in the United Arab Emirates.
With Palo's proposal, Estonia's participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, would be supported with €5 million, €150,000 of which would be allocated this year, €750,000 next year, approximately €3.4 million in 2020 and another €750,000 in 2021.
Palo is also applying for the opening of an embassy in the UAE, which would require an annual allocation of €800,000 for the covering of fixed costs, €650,000 of which would go to the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and €150,000 to the budget of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. An additional one-off payment of €75,000 would have to be allocated to the Foreign Ministry for the establishment of the foreign representation.
Palo had told BNS in January that should Estonia decide to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai, it should also be accompanied by the establishment of a foreign representation in the UAE.
"Participation in only one trade fair, the Expo, is insufficient," the minister said last month. "If we go to the trade fair, we should really open a foreign representation there as well, which would continue working in the region. Otherwise it will be a one-off, very large expense. I personally support opening a representation in the region."
Palo also noted at the time that the government should make a decision regarding whether Estonia will participate in the Dubai Expo in the next few weeks, as delaying the decision would make it difficult to prepare in time.
"I definitely support the request to be put on the table and for it to be satisfied, but I am only one member of the government," she said. In addition to economic diplomacy, Estonia's foreign policy and consular interests would also be taken into account when deliberating the opening of foreign representations. "But entrepreneurs are definitely interested, and I think it is worth contributing toward that," she added.
Of Estonia's neighboring countries, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and most likely Finland are to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai.
Norway's estimated budget for the Expo is €15 million, while Sweden has budgeted €14 million for the event. Should Finland decide to participate, the country's budget may total approximately €18 million.
Estonia has previously participated in three Expos. Its budget for Expo 2000 Hannover was €3.5 million, its budget for Expo 2010 Shanghai was €3.8 million, and its budget for Expo 2015 Milano totaled €4.9 million, €1.2 million of which was sourced from EU Structural Funds.
According to initial estimates, Estonia's participation in Expo 2020 Dubai would cost approximately €5 million. As its participation can no longer be funded from EU Structural Funds during the current EU financing period, the costs involved would have to be covered from the state budget and, if possible, involve money from private investors as well.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in 2016 filed a proposal to the government that Estonia not participate in the World Expo in Dubai in 2020, citing the fact that participation would cost too much and the money could be better used for the participation of Estonian companies in more beneficial specialist trade fairs.
Editor: Aili Vahtla