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Economic relations

The upturn in Estonia’s international trade in 2010 (exports +35%, imports +27%) had limited impact on its trade with France. The figures for 2011 show a slight improvement, although well below the improvement in Estonia’s overall trade performance. On an annual basis, national statistics show Estonia’s exports growing by 38% in 2011 and imports by 37%.

Between 2010 and 2011, France’s exports to Estonia increased by 33% and imports from Estonia by 17%. Due to the slower growth of Estonian exports to France, our bilateral trade balance improved significantly by 109% to €65 million, after a number of years of continued decline (-30% in 2010).

France is Estonia’s 13th biggest supplier with a 2% share of the Estonian market in 2011. These figures do not, however, include goods exported to Estonia via subsidiaries of French companies operating in Scandinavia or Central Europe. France’s main exports include spirits, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and electrical equipment.

Estonia’s exports to France consist primarily of refined petroleum products, textiles, nitrogen products and fertilisers, motor vehicles and paper pulp.

French investment in Estonia has grown over recent years (France is now the country’s 6th largest investor, with investments of €300 million). 2010 was noteworthy for the signing of a major contract: French engineering firm CNIM was awarded a €98 million contract for the construction of a waste incineration unit outside Tallinn. January 2011 saw the signing of another major contract, this time in the field of power generation: Alstom, already awarded a contract to install flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) systems on the existing oil shale-fired power plants at Narva in north-eastern Estonia, won an order from Estonia’s state-owned utility Eesti Energia for the construction of two new power plants at the Narva site at a total cost of €1 billion (the largest contract of its size ever awarded in the region), equivalent to 6.5% of Estonia’s GDP. The contract will reinforce Estonia’s energy independence whilst at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other French firms investing in Estonia are Dalkia (district heating networks in Tallinn and 13 other Estonian cities, acquisition in 2009 of a 100% of a biomass cogeneration plant), Saint-Gobain (seven subsidiaries: three producing glass and industrial mortars and four engaged in distribution, including Estonia’s leading building materials distributor, ABC Ehitus) and Lafarge. JC Decaux is under contract to manage street furniture in the capital. At the beginning of 2012, French industrial electronics firm Eolane acquired Elcoteq Tallinn.

Updated on 14.12.12

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