Swedbank: Russian Influence Subsides in Estonian Economy

Russia’s impact on the Estonian economy has declined in the last six years, with the country currently being only the 12th largest trade partner for Estonia, Swedbank chief economist Tonu Mertsina has said, according to ERR.

“As is known, the Russian economy went into a decline in 2014, the ruble plummeted and with that, Russian demand fell. Various sanctions were also imposed on Russia, which it responded to with its own. All this had a major impact on economic relations with our eastern neighbor,” Mertsina said.

While the share of goods and services directed from Estonia to Russia in total exports has slightly improved this year, to 2.6 percent, it is significantly lower than the 2013 level of 7.8 percent.

“The share of imports has experienced some ups and downs over the years in between, but in the first half of this year remained at about the same level as in 2013,” the economist said.

“Direct investments made from Estonia into Russia has increased in the last few years, but their share in all direct investments made abroad and in Estonia’s gross domestic product (GDP) — three percent and 3.8 percent, respectively — are smaller than in 2013,” Mertsina added.

In addition, the number of Russian tourists and their share in all tourists visiting Estonia do not reach the level they were at five or six years ago.

Estonia was in the focus last year when it was discovered that a branch of Denmark’s biggest bank Danske in the Baltic country was used by a member of Vladimir Putin’s family and Russia’s intelligence service, FSB, to launder huge amounts of money

The Estonian branch of Danske Bank was already implicated in other money-laundering schemes, involving billions of dollars from Azerbaijan flowing through it, some of which ended up in the pockets of European politicians who praised the Baku regime, marked by international organizations as a chronic human rights abuser.