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Estonia’s exports to UAE double after Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai
The Estonia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai features its robotics and ag-tech innovations
  • Goods exported up 126% to $80m, services up 110% to $49m
  • Expo showcased Estonia’s digital innovations and a robot ‘barista’
  • Country also marketing its agri-food sector internationally 

Estonia’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai helped the European country’s exports of goods and services to the UAE increase by more than 100 percent in the past year.

The value of Estonian goods exported to the UAE was up 126 percent year-on-year to €80.8 million ($80.57 million) in the eight months from January to August 2022, up from €35.6 million in the year-earlier period, according to trade body Enterprise Estonia.

The volume of Estonian services exported to the UAE increased by 110 percent year-on-year to €48.9 million in the first half of this year, up from €23.3 million in the same period of 2021.

Marge Pihlapuu, head of international sales at Enterprise Estonia, told AGBI that the Middle East – and the UAE in particular – is a “strategic area for the development of Estonian exports.”

She said that the country’s participation in the six-month Expo 2020 Dubai global showcase had helped to boost Estonian trade with the UAE. In 2019, Estonia recorded €69 million worth of goods exports to the UAE, compared to the almost €81 million recorded solely for January to August this year.

“Awareness about Estonia and its goods and services is continuously rising in the region. Each and every comprehensive action [taken] to promote Estonian products and services, and create awareness about Estonia contributes to this,” Pihlapuu said.

“Dubai Expo was chosen as one of those actions at an early stage. It deserves credit [alongside] other actions developed on a continuous basis. Certainly, there are none with the high visibility and impact of Expo 2020 Dubai.” 

The latest figures are also significantly up on pre-pandemic levels, Pihlapuu added, further demonstrating the impact Expo appears to have had on Estonian-UAE trade. 

Tree, Plant, Christmas Tree
For the tourism sector, Estonia offers attractions such as the Christmas Market in capital Tallin. Picture: Creative Commons

Expo 2020 Dubai was staged between October 1 2021 and March 31 2022 and attracted more than 24 million visitors, according to the Dubai government.

Estonia’s exhibition pavillion at the Expo showcased digital innovations that have helped to change the lives of Estonian citizens.

Among the e-solutions demonstrated was a robot ‘barista’ that could prepare fresh coffee for visitors and handle contactless payments. The pavilion also featured a restaurant serving traditional Estonian food such as rye bread and local desserts. 

The statistics provided by Enterprise Estonia do not include a breakdown of the specific goods and services exported.

Pihlapuu said the country’s global trade figures “suggest the two main service exports would be agriculture and food”. 

Estonia has also been actively marketing its agri-food sector internationally in the past 12 months, and exports to the UAE in this category have “soared” compared with pre-Expo levels, to €3.2 million in the January-August period, from just over €284,000 in the same months of last year.

This is up more than 1,000 percent, according to Pihlapuu. As well as Expo, Estonia exhibited at the Gulfood trade event in Dubai in February.

The UAE is also looking to strengthen bilateral ties with Estonia and is exploring ways of cooperating in the fields of artificial intelligence and the digital economy, according to WAM, the UAE state news agency.

The two countries signed an early-stage agreement last September to set up a joint business council.

In May this year a UAE delegation completed a trade mission to Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania, aimed at deepening economic relations.

The mission included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Finance, the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Artificial Intelligence Office, as well as investment vehicles such as Mubadala, Masdar, and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.