Estonian analysts believe that trade between Estonia and Russia, which reached a historical peak last year, will sharply decline in the second quarter of this year, writes err.ee.
Last year, Estonia exported goods to Russia for € 770 million, and imported almost € 2.1 billion. Moreover, the current statistics give the impression that bilateral trade continues to gain momentum – in March, imports from Russia to Estonia were 63% more than a year ago. Due to the rise in prices of many goods, the March figures are much higher than in February. But Estonian analysts say the picture will soon be completely different.
“Assessing the statistics of the first quarter, one must understand that January and February were completely ordinary months. But after February 24, the situation changed dramatically and the introduction of sanctions began. And while some previously signed agreements are still being implemented, since April, factors such as restrictions on transactions by Russian banks and on the activities of Russian trucking and shipping companies have been added. So in the second quarter, trade with Russia will inevitably be much less,” said the Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt.
This forecast is confirmed by representatives of the woodworking sector, which is important for the Estonian economy. They believe that although in March timber imports from Russia were almost a third more than a year ago, this business will soon come to naught.
“Since at the end of last year we had a very high demand for timber, in the first quarter of the year, contracts for timber imports from Russia were concluded for rather large volumes. Lumber ordered last year from Russia continues to arrive now, because due to problems with logistics they could not be delivered earlier. But from July, the ban on the import of sawn timber from Russia, introduced by the European Union, will come into force, ”explained the head of the Union of Forestry and Woodworking Industry Henrik Välja.
However, Välja does not rule out that “some intermediaries may try to take advantage, so to speak, of the last remaining opportunities.” But “big and reputable timber importers,” he said, have already “get used to the idea that the eastern trade is closed.” And the Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship directly says that “the exchange of goods with the aggressive eastern neighbor should be reduced to a minimum.”
“Firstly, there are sanctions – and they need to be applied. Secondly, there is also an ethical side – the position of both entrepreneurs and customers, many of whom no longer want to buy goods of Russian origin. In foreign trade with Russia, an “iron curtain” appeared, so to speak. And there is no reason to believe that in the foreseeable future, trade with this country will begin to grow again, ”Sutt emphasized.
In terms of volumes of imports to Estonia, Russia in March ranked fourth among foreign trade partners, and in terms of exports, it was in ninth place. Former Estonian President Alar Karis stated that “we cannot completely isolate Russia” and “we need to look for ways to communicate with Russia in other ways and do some business with Russia.”