The National Audit Office of Estonia's overview of business diplomacy published today confirms the significant role of the export advisers and investment consultants of the Enterprise Estonia in the development of the Estonian economy. In 2019, with the help of Enterprise Estonia's investment consultants, 199 million euros of foreign investments were brought to Estonia, which created nearly 1,000 jobs, and with the help of export advisers, companies' export revenues were increased by 16.2 million euros.
According to Raul Siem, Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology, the long-term experience and operating model of Enterprise Estonia's foreign representations have proved themselves. "One of the government's priorities is to increase the country's ability to support Estonian exporters in as many markets as possible, and this requires a network of foreign representations of Enterprise Estonia," said Siem.
According to him, decisions on the future of business diplomacy must take into account the best practices and effectiveness. “As the National Audit Office notes, the cooperation between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Enterprise Estonia is important and increasingly effective. There must be a clear division of labor and responsibilities between all parties, and there must be no unreasonable competition between the institutions implementing business diplomacy. I certainly do not consider it reasonable to break down a well-functioning Enterprise Estonia system, because the results based on clear indicators of Enterprise Estonia show that Enterprise Estonia's foreign representations are a revenue project," said Siem.
According to the head of Enterprise Estonia Peeter Raudsepp, the National Audit Office has done a thorough job, which confirms the importance of business diplomacy to our economy. “Speaking of foreign missions, it is important to understand that Enterprise Estonia offers services and support to companies during their various development cycles and throughout the value chain. The expertise of export consultants is an important part of the whole that we offer to entrepreneurs in order to enter the export market as efficiently as possible," said Raudsepp.
He pointed out, for example, that companies often need help adapting a product or strategy before entering the market, or market-specific support from sales and marketing experts. "Only by acting long-term and consistently can we hope for success that is sustainable and not limited to a few individual transactions," Raudsepp emphasized. He added that no ambitious company wants to waste the crisis. "At the beginning of the crisis, the number of applications from entrepreneurs to our export advisors increased by more than 50%, and in the new situation, where movement is limited, we can offer even more support to entrepreneurs by being present in the markets," Raudsepp explained.
According to the head of Enterprise Estonia, significant foreign investments have mostly come from those countries where Enterprise Estonia has a foreign mission. "In the daily work of the Foreign Investment Center, it is very important that our experts are actually present in the markets and establish long-term relationships. Our other activities support the work of our foreign activities on a daily basis, and only as such cooperation is it possible to attract foreign investments to Estonia,” said Raudsepp.
Enterprise Estonia's foreign representations operate in 16 countries, Enterprise Estonia has 15 export advisers, six investment consultants and two tourism representatives. In addition to foreign representatives operating in target markets, Enterprise Estonia has an Asia center located in Tallinn, where companies are advised by specialists with Asian market experience.