The Estonian government decided at its Thursday Cabinet meeting to support the country's participation at the World Expo in Dubai in 2020.
"According to the Cabinet decision, to cover the costs related to the participation in the expo in 2019, €1 million will be earmarked in the the government reserve intended for a specific purpose, while €1 million to cover the costs related to participation in the expo in 2020 will be set out in the national budget strategy," the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said.
Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Rene Tammist (SDE) described the Cabinet's nod to participation in the expo as an investment decision important for Estonia, which will be of great benefit for the people of Estonia and not just the companies taking part in it.
"By taking part in the expo, we will be creating a bridge that could allow us to double our exports to the countries of the Gulf, increasing it by approximately €75 million," he said. "That would bring an estimated €15 million back into our treasury in tax revenue."
For the private sector, participation in the expo is important primarily for the establishment of business contacts and finding export opportunities, which is why the leading role in organising participation in the Dubai Expo is in the hands of private-sector companies, he added.
"The private sector's readiness to make a contribution to participating in the expo demonstrates a clear wish and need of business operators to take part in the expo," Tammist said. "Such partnership in joint marketing between the state and business operators is very common in the Nordic countries."
He also added that the country being permanently represented in the region will likewise ensure follow-up activities to the expo, which will help ensure that participation in the expo was not a one-off action, and that ties established there would persist.
Participation in the Dubai Expo will be organised by a consortium of private companies under an agreement to be concluded between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL). Under the agreement, the consortium to be established will be responsible for preparing for Estonia's participation in the expo, the organisation of the Estonian exhibit, the exhibit itself as well as presence at the expo.
Support for Estonia's participation in the expo has been expressed in recent weeks by the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu, ITL and the Estonian Service Industry Association. Support has also previously been voiced by the Association of Tourism Industry and the Estonian Defence Industry Association (EDIA).
Estonia's exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amounted to €45.3 million in 2015 and €54.5 million in 2016. In 2017, exports totalled €67.9 million and imports €8.3 million. At least 50 Estonian businesses are constantly active on the market there.
The UAE has sent Estonia a formal invitation to take part in the World Expo in Dubai in 2020, which will be held from 20 October 2020 through 10 April 2021. The global expo is held every five years; the most recent was held in Milan in 2015.
Editor: Aili Vahtla