Entrepreneurs and creditors gather to discuss the opportunities and challenges of financing exports
Taking place for the third year in a row is the Estonian Export Financing Conference. The conference, to be held in Tallinn on 19 October, will address the current state of Estonian exports and the financing thereof, the success factors, best practices and experience of businesses. The event is being organised by KredEx Krediidikindlustus AS, in cooperation with DNB, Danske Bank, and SEB Pank.
Estonian exports have continued to decline over the past three years, with the biggest drop occurring in 2015, when exports decreased 4% in current prices compared to 2014. If we were to compare the overall state of Estonian exports with those of other European countries, then at the same time exports by other EU Member States increased by an average of 5% in 2015. There is also no major sign of improvement in 2016; the volumes have decreased even further compared to last year. At the same time a large segment of our economy depends specifically on exports. Estonia’s largest export partner in 2015, with a share of approximately 19%, was Sweden. All in all, Estonia exported goods to 180 countries.
According to Meelis Tambla, the Chairman of the Management Board of the leader of the conference, AS KredEx Krediidikindlustus, export activity and its development require extensive investments, and funding must be available to everyone under internationally competitive conditions. “In our opinion, it would pay for entrepreneurs, banks as well as representatives of the state to occasionally ask each other whether our offered financial solutions are sufficient for exporters and comparable to what is available to our competitors. Successful sales on foreign markets most definitely consist of a number of different components; although, availability of funding could be figuratively referred to as the bloodstream. We have constantly been improving our credit insurance services over the years and this has mainly been based on feedback from entrepreneurs,” Tambla said.
According to Andrus Soodla, the Deputy Director of Corporate Banking at Danske Bank, there have been no major changes in export structure over the last decade. The contribution of trade to export volumes has increased in some measure. “The predominating industries in Estonian exports are still the low tech sectors. The biggest contribution to exports comes from the processing industry and trade. Considering export-oriented services, Danske Bank has recently expanded the possibility in Estonia for concluding settlements in Japanese Yen,” Soodla said.
According to the Chairman of the Management Board and Head of Corporate Banking at DNB, Krõõt Kilvet, Estonia’s flexibility could serve as our advantage when expanding to new export markets. “Estonia’s export results should be better. There is no growth taking place in product exports and service exports are also experiencing a downward trend. This can be explained by weakness in demand from foreign markets; still, the flexibility arising from the small scale of the Estonian economy should help us to enter new markets faster. Banking definitely has a role to play in fostering this flexibility,” Kilvet reckoned.
When talking about Estonia’s exports, it is nearly always about physical quantities of goods. Eerika Vaikmäe-Koit, Head of Corporate Banking and Institutions at SEB, discusses the fact that in reality the export of goods accounts for only two-thirds of total exports from Estonia, with the rest coming from the export of services. “Compared to neighbouring countries, Estonia has been quite capable in exporting its services. Lithuania, with twice the population of Estonia, exports approximately EUR 600 million more in services compared to us. Surprisingly, Latvia – which, thanks to AirBaltic, has become the aviation centre of the Baltics – exports almost EUR 1.3 billion less in services than Estonia. When taking into consideration its population, the export of services by Finland is proportionally on the same level with that of Estonia, while the value of exported goods per capita surpasses Estonia significantly,” Vaikmäe-Koit said.
Regardless of what anyone is exporting, funding is, figuratively speaking, the bloodstream of the exporting process. Accordingly, it is important for the opinion leaders of the area to gather regularly, to discuss Estonia’s export outlook, opportunities and challenges. The Estonian Export Financing Conference 2016 will be held in Tallinn on 19 October, at the Park Inn by Radisson Meriton Conference & Spa Hotel Tallinn.