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Estonia’s exports per capita were below the EU average last year

According to Statistics Estonia, the country’s exports decreased by 16% in the last year compared to the year 2022. Photo: Pixabay

In 2023, Estonia’s exports of goods amounted to €18.2 billion and imports to €21.2 billion at current prices. Exports decreased by 16% and imports by 17% compared with 2022, the trade deficit reached €3 billion, announced Statistics Estonia. 

While Estonia’s exports per capita have traditionally exceeded the EU average, last year the opposite was true – Estonia’s exports per capita amounted to €13,324, whereas the EU average was €14,836. Imports per capita were greater than the EU average (€14,523), reaching €15,498. In a comparison of the Baltic countries, Estonia’s exports and imports per capita exceeded Latvia’s, but were below those of Lithuania. As in Estonia, per capita exports in Latvia and Lithuania were lower than the EU average. Imports per capita in Estonia and Lithuania were above the EU average, while Latvia’s figures were below average.

According to Eurostat, per capita exports were highest in the Netherlands (€48,620) and lowest in Cyprus (€4,490). The Netherlands also had the highest imports per capita (€43,806), whereas the figure was lowest in Romania (€6,404).

Medium-sized enterprises accounted for the largest share of turnover

Among enterprises engaged in foreign trade, micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees were the most numerous in 2023. These accounted for 78% of all exporting economic units and 84% of all importing ones. However, medium-sized enterprises with 50–249 employees generated the highest monetary value in foreign trade last year. They accounted for 38% of Estonia’s total exports and 29% of total imports. Medium-sized enterprises constituted 5% of the number of economic units engaged in exports and 3% of those engaged in imports. The number of large enterprises with at least 250 employees in Estonia was the lowest, comprising only 1% of economic units engaged in foreign trade but accounting for 22% of total exports and imports.

Whether an enterprise is controlled by domestic or foreign owners depends on who holds the majority of the voting rights, or equity. There are both domestic- and foreign-controlled enterprises engaged in each economic activity.

In terms of exports, the share of enterprises controlled by foreign owners was highest in the mining and quarrying (45%), financial activities (35%), and information and communication (31%) sectors. The largest share of enterprises controlled by domestic owners was found in construction (95%), agriculture (94%), and transport and storage (89%).


Share of goods of Estonian origin was greatest in exports of wood and articles of wood

In 2023, exports of goods of Estonian origin were 17% lower than a year earlier. The share of these goods in Estonia’s total exports remained unchanged year-on-year at 64%.

The share of goods of Estonian origin was highest in the exports of wood and articles of wood, where Estonian-origin goods accounted for 95% of total exports. This was followed by miscellaneous manufactured articles (87%), paper and paper products (83%), base metals and articles of base metal (78%), and agricultural products and food preparations (74%). The share of goods of Estonian origin was lowest in the exports of transport equipment (26%) and mineral products (33%).

The largest exports of goods of Estonian origin last year went to Finland, Sweden, and Germany. Compared with 2022, exports of goods of Estonian origin decreased the most to the United States, Sweden, and Egypt, but increased to Singapore, Ukraine, and China.

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