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Balkans see great potential in business cooperation with Estonia

TALLINN – Macedonia, Serbia and Albania regard economic cooperation with Estonia as having great potential, officials and executives said after a visit for Estonian businesspeople to these countries organized by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Where ten years ago we had no substantial economic relations with the Balkans, by now we have arrived at a point where the accession of the countries of Western Balkans to the European Union will hopefully become reality in the coming few years. That would definitely give a serious new impetus to our economic relations," Vaino Reinart, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Foreign Ministry, said in a press release.

Mait Palts, director general of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the message from all of the countries visited was the same -- there are many opportunities for Estonian businesses to expand their business on these markets.

Palts described a cooperation agreement concluded between the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia during the mission's visit to Serbia as testifying to the wish of both sides to work together.

"I urge Estonian businesses to get to know the opportunities offered by the countries of the Balkans better still, as almost all sectors could find a niche there," he added.

Estonia's trade with Macedonia, a country roughly the size of half of Estonia, grew from 400,000 euros in 2015 to six million euros last year. Imports and exports alike grew mostly as a result of increases in the imports and exports of machinery and equipment.

With a population of seven million people, Serbia is the biggest of the countries visited by the mission. Trade between Estonia and Serbia grew 25 percent year over year to 13 million euros in 2017.

Albania, which has lost much of its population to emigration, is a country of an estimated 2.8 million people now. From 2016 to 2017, Estonia's imports from Albania shot up from 100,000 euros to 5.1 million euros mostly as a result of increased imports of crustaceans and molluscs in the form of products and preserves.

The business delegation made up of executives from the companies Arvato Services Estonia, Aktors, Defendec, ESTALG Group, Gloria, GoSwift, Net Group and Trustcorp visited the Balkans from March 12-16.

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