Estonia Vs Slovenia

An item first published on this blog on 6th July, 2012.

An interesting and detailed post here, from the redoubtable Edward Hugh, about one of the two other CEE countries, apart from Estonia, that have acceded to the Eurozone, namely Slovenia (the third country is Slovakia).

Having consistently outperformed Estonia and even ‘older’ Eurozone countries like Portugal, it seems not all is well with Slovenia.

Like Estonia, a small country (with a population of around 2 million) which was formerly a part of Yugoslavia and in fact the first constituent state to gain independence in 1991, Slovenia now seems to be drifting towards joining Spain, Greece, Ireland et al in an IMF or similar bailout, according to the article.

Moreover, in some areas where Estonia has seen an improvement over the last year or so, for example in GDP levels and construction volumes, Slovenia has seen a decline. Unemployment, whilst at a somewhat lower rate than Estonia’s (over eight per cent in Slovenia as compared with a little over 11 per cent in Estonia) has been consistently growing in Slovenia since 2008, whereas the trend in Estonia has been for a fall since mid-2010 (though with small recent increases).

Furthermore, Estonia has leapfrogged Slovenia in the credit ratings stakes, at least as Fitch sees it. As reported on this blog, Estonia currently holds a Fitch rating of A+ whereas Slovenia is now rated at A.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.


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Estonia Hosts Euro U19 Football Championships Starting Today

You could be forgiven for thinking that with Spain’s historic victory in the European Football Championships on Sunday, all those who dislike football could breathe a sigh of relief, for at least a month or so. However this is not the case – the under 19 European Championships are underway, and Estonia is hosting some of the games!

Starting today, 3rd July, matches are to be played in three Estonian towns – Tallinn, plus the seaside town of Haapsalu and also in Rakvere.

The tournament features eight countries, Estonia, Spain, England, Croatia, France, Greece, Portugal and Serbia, all of course countries whose full national teams took part in Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, with the exception of Estonia and Serbia.

Some of the facilities at Haapsalu had to be upgraded to meet international requirements, but all is in place, and Greece take on Spain in Haapsalu today, with England playing Croatia at the Kadriorg stadium, hosts Estonia taking on Portugal at the Lilleküla ground, also in Tallinn, and France playing Serbia in Rakvere.

Estonia won the contest to host the championships, which last until 15th July, back in 2010, seeing off eleven other countries in the process.

Estonia narrowly missed qualifications in the full blown Euro 2012 after losing in the playoffs to Ireland.

It remains to be seen whether Spain’s youngsters will add to that country’s bursting trophy cabinet!

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Fuel Prices In Estonia At An 18 Month Low – But Will This Continue?

The recent fall in fuel prices in Estonia looks set to peter out, according to a report on the Estonian Press Digest from News2Biz.

Naturally prices at the pumps follow the world oil price, which has fallen from 125 USD (Brent Crude) in March to 90 USD at present, the lowest level for the last 18 months, the report stated.

Statoil, the Norwegian majority state-owned petroleum company which has a network of fuel stations all over Estonia, has seen an 8.9 per cent fall in petrol prices y-o-y and a 10.3 per cent fall in the price of diesel over the same period.

The belief that the fall will halt is not universally shared by analysts, however. According to Raimo Vahtrik from Statoil Fuel & Retail Eesti as reported in the article, some analysts believe that oversupply will continue to cause a fall in prices whereas others see an increase on the back of Chinese and US growth and a solution to the Euro zone woes. Moreover, a rise in consumption of diesel (demand for which is derived to a large extent from commercial users) has been seen, and may be seen in the case of petrol if the prices do in fact fall, Mr. Vahtrik was quoted in the report.

Conversely Anti Moppel, marketing manager of Olerex, an Estonian chain of petrol stations, with 46 both manned and unmanned facilities throughout the country, was reported as saying that continuing low demand and sufficient supply will ensure that prices continue to remain low for the meantime. Other factors contributing to this were, he believed, the continuing global economic slump, tensions in Iran and the arrival of the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the time of writing, 95 petrol was 1.335 Euros/litre at our local Olerex station on Ahtri, whilst it was 1.295 Euros/litre at the Statoil just round the corner on Põhja Pst. 98 petrol cost 1.375 Euros/litre at Olerex and 1.335 Euros/litre at Statoil, whilst diesel stood at 1.295 Euros/litre at Olerex and 1.275 Euros/litre at Statoil

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Statistics: Construction Volume Index In Estonia Grows 28 Per Cent Y-o-Y

Following yesterday’s post revealing the minimal increase in apartment prices in Estonia over the past 12 months, another post on Tõnu Toompark’s Adaur blog has stated that, in contrast, construction volume has seen a 28 per cent rise y-o-y to Q1 2012.

This figure is derived from the construction volume index compiled from the Estonian statistics office data, which currently stands at 84 points, writes Tõnu.

This represents a return to the average level for 2009, Tõnu says.

In the meantime there had been a growth in construction volume index over the last five quarters, at figures of around 30-40 per cent.

For the full report (in Estonian) see here, including graphs showing figures for the building index both in Estonia and globally, going back to 2001 (though this is retrospective; the index is calibrated at 100= the year 2005), together with graphs showing y-o-y changes over the same period (where the ‘year’= 100, so the figure for Q1 2012 will be 128).

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Estonian Foreign Minister Speaks On The Environment

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet recently made a speech in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, urging the necessity of wholesale changes in people’s lifestyles, according to a report by Kristopher Rikken on the Estonian Public Broadcasting English site.

After noting the importance of citizens living within their means, Mr. Paet, formally Estonian Defence Minister, set out Estonia’s contribution to this drive, which will include more environmenally- and socially-friendly initiatives. One concrete example  that Mr. Paet cited is the World Cleanup 2012 project, which aims to deal with 100 million tonnes of illegal waste in around 100 countries, and which has been inspired in part by the similar ‘Let’s Do It’ cleanup drive in Estonia, according to the report.

Mr. Paet stated that by the year 2030, 50 per cent more food and 45 per cent more energy will be amongst the advances need to be made to meet global demand, all at a time when CO2 emmissions have increased by 38 per cent over the last 20 years in addition to other environmental hazards such as overfishing and deforestation.

The original report can be viewed here.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Estonian Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi Firm on Greece

Estonian Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi has stated that  Greece will not receive any significant concessions on the terms that have been set out in the European Stability Mechanism, according to a report by Ingrid Teesalu on the English language service of the Estonian Public Broadcasting website .

At a meeting in Luxembourg yesterday (Thursday 21st June) Mr. Ligi told ERR radio that “The major objective in the case of Greece is to reduce the debt and deficit level of the country” whilst going on to say that whilst progress had been made, more was needed to be done, the report stated. The next step would be for overseas representatives of those creditors to visit Greece, he went on.

Greece, which has a new goverment after recent elections, is currenly treading the line between meeting its creditors’, incuding the IMF and the EU, demands, whilst keeping in mind the need to placate domestic opinion in seeking to renegotiate some of the bailout terms, according to the report.

Mr. Ligi’s stock has meanwhile been in the ascendancy it seems; according to a report today on the Estonian Press Digest from News2Biz, the Estonian Finance Minister received a glowing endorsement from German newspaper Der Spiegel, recommending that Ligi replace outgoing Euro Group chief, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg (who is also that country’s incumbent Prime Minister) who has headed up what is in effect the political guiding organisation of the Euro currency since 2005.

Der Spiegel noted Mr. Ligi’s steering through of painful reforms including massive public spending cuts following the 2008-2010 depression, which circumvented the need for either currency devaluation or IMF or other bailout, and helped ensure Estonia’s accession to the Euro Zone in January 2011, as the main rationale in its advocacy of Ligi’s candidature.

Mr. Ligi, of the ruling Reformierakond/IRL coalition government, for his part remained modest, stating that he was flattered by the recommendation and that there was no reason why Mr. Juncker shouldn’t continue in the role.

Mr. Juncker is due to step down from the Euro Group leadership in July.

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Estonian Property Prices Rising Despite Most Countries Seeing A Fall

According to a recent  global property report from prestigious real estate company Knight Frank, whilst the general global trend for house prices is for a continuing  fall, Estonia is bucking this trend and seeing rising prices.

Written by Kate Everett-Allen, the report referred to Knight Frank’s own Global House Price Index (GHPI), where Estonia saw the second highest property price rise in the world y-o-y between December 2010 and December 2011 with a 12.3 per cent GHPI rise (only Brazil was higher) and, whilst more recent rises have been more modest, it is still well ahead of many countries, and much of Europe in particular.

The 6 month GHPI figure stood at 4.4 per cent rise (only Germany was higher at 5 per cent, and Ireland saw a drop of -9 per cent over the same period) and the 3 month period GHPI stood at 1.1 per cent (compared with – 1.1 per cent for the UK).

Whilst the slowdown in China and other Asian countries, not to mention North America, has had its effect on the index, Europe stands as the worst affected region with all 12 bottom spots being occupied by European countries, which makes the Estonian ‘blip’ all the more surprising. In addition to Germany, the only other European countries to have seen an increase are Iceland, Norway and Switzerland; naturally the continuing Eurozone crisis has taken its toll.

60 per cent of countries polled saw a drop in prices over the final quarter of 2011. In addition to the Eurozone crisis and other global economic uncertainty, the report also cited stricter mortgage lending requirements and falling consumer confidence.

“If ..[the] .. trend spreads to more locations, the overall GHPI could easily slip into negative territory during 2012, especially if the slowdown in Asia continues”, the report stated.

Knight Frank is a truly global, high quality commercial and residential real estate agent with a presence in 43 countries worldwide. The original report is available here.

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Estonia Placed Third Equal In Press Freedom Rankings

The recently-published Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index has seen Estonia rise six places to joint third (with the Netherlands) just behind Finland and Norway which occupy the top two spots.

The Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom index is based on a survey compiled and sent to partner organisations, journalists, correspondents, jurists and other interested parties round the world. Questions include incidence of repression of journalists including imprisonment (this only refers to domestic journalists and not foreign correspondents), state responsibility in censorship, and the state’s attitude towards internet development in any given country. The way in which scores are measured has somewhat changed from the previous year, with a negative score actually being a good thing, but the change in ranking is the key yardstick.

Estonia first appeared in the rankings in 2003, the second year they had been compiled, in joint 13th place, and it never fell lower than this point. In fact this year’s is the country’s joint best place, having already placed third in 2007.

The latest rankings see Iceland and Austria making up the top six, Sweden in 12th place, the UK in 28th place, the US in 47th place, neighbouring Latvia in 50th place and Russia in 142nd place.

The Press Freedom Index placing is not a reflection of the quality of the media within a given country, though it might be surmised that a certain corollary between the two might exist.

The original article which includes the criteria used in the questionnaire and the procedures in making the survey can be viewed here.

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Estonia 26th in World Corruption Index

Estonia ranks in 26th place in the world table of perceived corruption, according to figures released by Transparency International.

With a score of 6.5 (where 10 equals ‘highly clean’ and 0 ‘highly corrupt’) Estonia has moved up the table by one place compared with last year, says a report compiled by Baltic Business News.

The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is based on public sector corruption, and the results have been drawn from some 13 assessments and surveys published between January 2009 and September 2010. The criterion for a change in rating consists of a movement of at least 0.3 points, and at least half of the available data for the country in question should point towards this change. On this basis, Estonia’s position remains unchanged on last year, although in practice it has moved up one place, simply due to one other country that was present in the list in 2009 having been excluded due to a failure to provide accurate data.

In fact only sixteen countries out of the total 178 saw either an improvement or a deterioration in their score over the last year.

Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore were in joint first place on the list with a score of 9.3, followed by Finland and Sweden jointly tied in second place with 9.2. The UK was in 20th place with a score of 7.5, the US was 22nd (7.1), Lithuania 46th (5.0) and Latvia 59th (4.3). The lowest placed country in 178th position was Somalia with a score of 1.1.

The full report can be downloaded at the Transparency International site.

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