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Reform Party backs call for new foreign trade minister

Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas.
Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

In the foreign policy part of its platform for the general election on 3 March 2019, the Reform Party backs experts' recent call for an extension of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' competencies to include a ministerial position dedicated to developing foreign trade.

"The Estonian state has two aims: for our state, language and culture to be preserved, and for our economy to function. Since 70% of Estonia's GDP depend on exports, the foreign economic policy of the state needs to support the activity of our businesses in foreign markets as well as attract investors here," chairwoman of the Reform Party, Kaja Kallas said in a press release.

"It's obvious that the domain of foreign trade policy today is haphazard, with officials dealing with the issue working at several different ministries, and additionally at embassies and Enterprise Estonia. We would like to bring them all together to form an effective force, led by a minister of foreign trade working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Reform Party MEP Urmas Paet said. Paet, himself a former minister of foreign affairs, chairs Reform's work group on foreign policy.

According to Paet, businesses expect more in terms of support from the state to be successful in foreign markets, and the position of minister of foreign trade and entrepreneurship that used to exist at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications had turned out not to be enough.

Marko Mihkelson, who recently joined the party and who has many years' experience working on the Riigikogu's foreign policy bodies, agrees. "Consolidating the body of officials whose functions are related to foreign trade and development cooperation is a matter of extreme importance, as the jobs of at least 300,000 people depend on it. Estonia is a country of very open trade, and one that benefits from it. Therefore, better political leadership in this domain is very important," Mihkelson said.

He added that Estonia needs to follow the example of countries such as Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands in making trade a success.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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