Macedonia, Serbia and Albania consider economic cooperation with Estonia as having great potential, officials and executives said following a visit by Estonian businesspeople to these countries organized by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"Where ten years ago we had no substantial economic relations with the Balkans, we have since reached a point where the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the EU will hopefully become a reality in the coming years," Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Economic and Development Affairs Väino Reinart said in a press release.
Mait Palts, director general of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the message from all of the countries visited was the same — there are many opportunities for Estonian businesses to expand their business on these markets.
Palts described a cooperation agreement concluded between the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia during the mission's visit to Serbia as testimony to the mutual desire for cooperation.
"I urge Estonian businesses to better familiarize themselves with the opportunities offered by Balkan countries, as almost all sectors could find a niche there," he added.
Estonia's trade with Macedonia, a country roughly half the size of Estonia, grew from €400,000 in 2015 to €6 million last year, with imports and exports alike growing mostly as a result of increases in the imports and exports of machinery and equipment.
With a population of seven million, Serbia is the largest of the countries visited by the mission. Trade between Estonia and Serbia grew 25 percent on year to €13 million in 2017.
Albania, which has lost much of its population to emigration, is a country of an estimated 2.8 million people now. From 2016 to 2017, Estonia's imports from Albania shot up from €100,000 euros to €5.1 million, mostly as a result of increased imports of crustaceans and mollusks in the form of products and preserves.
An Estonian business delegation consisting of executives from the companies Arvato Services Estonia, Aktors, Defendec, ESTALG Group, Gloria, GoSwift, Net Group and Trustcorp visited the Balkans from March 12-16.
Editor: Aili Vahtla