New business idea of Skype founders – self-driving robots for delivering goods. Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, who were among the Skype founders have created a new start-up Starship Technologies that has worked out an innovative package carrying robot that can easily become the new Skype. The robot aims to revolutionize covering the last 5-10 km of goods delivery that is the most expensive section in the logistic chain of e-trade. The company currently hires 30 people, 20 of them are top engineers. Prototypes have already been tested in Estonia, England and USA. In spring Starship robot are foreseen to start operating in London, Estonian market is foreseen to be covered in summer. (Äripäev, page 8-9, November 3, 2015)

●レガタム繁栄指数:エストニア31位 (※日本は19位)
The annual Legatum Prosperity Index ranks 142 countries, with Estonia at 31st position, having raised by one place in comparison to last year. Estonia’s best merits are state governance, entrepreneurship and social capital. Latvia and Lithuania positioned at 40th and 41st position, respectively. (Äripäev, page 11, November 4, 2015) 

Yesterday three Baltic countries digitally signed a memorandum to share information that is vital for the prevention, aversion and investigation of cyber incidents. Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kristen Michal said during the video conference that Baltic countries are very highly developed information societies that share an understanding of the priorities in the field. (Postimees, page 4, November 5, 2015)

Entrepreneurs no longer worry about the shadow economy in Estonia. 34% of entrepreneurs feel that shadow economy is a problem in Estonia (86% in Latvia and 83% in Lithuania). Envelope salaries are perceived as the biggest issue. 75% of Estonian entrepreneurs plan to increase salaries in 2016 (69% in Lithuania and less than 40% in Latvia). (Äripäev, page 6, November 5, 2015)

Yesterday the heads of Scandinavian and Baltic unions of business angles signed a contract to create common association NordicBAN (Nordic Business Angels Network). This decision significantly improves the possibilities of start-up companies and investors in the region, creating possibilities for larger scale investments. The financial capacity of NordicBAN is estimated to be about 650 million euros, of which more than half is covered by Danish and Swedish investors. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 9, November 11, 2015)

Today and tomorrow Slush - one of the largest start-up exhibitions in the world - takes place in Helsinki. Estonia is represented by Enterprise Estonia and Development Fund with a possibility to get familiar with successful Estonian start-ups, possibilities to work in Estonia and applying for e-residency. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 9, November 11, 2015)

Estonia is the best breeding ground for start-ups in Baltic States. It is estimated that there are about 400 start-ups in Estonia and 16 successful sales have taken place since 2010. Latvia and Lithuania both have about 200 start-ups and each country has only made three successful sales. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 18, November 11, 2015)

Estonian start-up Lingvist will start teaching English to Japanese, receiving 7.8 million euros investment from Japanese IT-giant Rakuten. Lingvist offers a novel and efficient language training method that is based on mathematical algorithms and grew out of the idea of CERN physicist Mait Müntel, who was looking for an efficient method for studying French, while working in Geneva. The investment of Rakuten takes the company to a new level and to the new markets. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 18, November 11, 2015)

The lack of direct flight connections, funding of universities and high employment taxes makes Estonia’s start-up environment strongly below average in the world. Founder of several companies and former CEO of Skype Sten Tamkivi lately analyzed 110 cities in the world for their living environment and business friendliness with his current company Teleport. From the positive side Tallinn has one of world’s best living-quality to cost of living ratio, being fourth after Stockholm, Vienna and Zürich. In terms of business environment and conditions for new start-ups we are strongly below average. Currently Estonian business environment is very favorable for keeping capital here, but not for the creation of smart, international and expensive jobs. (Postimees, page 8, November 19, 2015)

According to the World Economic Forum report on gender equality the situation is the best in Nordic countries (Island, Norway, Finland Sweden and Ireland), although no country has achieved full equality; Estonia is at 21st position, Latvia at 20th and Lithuania at 31st. (Äripäev, page 12, November 23, 2015)

The annual report of National Audit Office points out that the chronic problems of Estonian economy have not disappeared despite some positive indicators. Auditor General Alar Karis points out the low functionality and productivity of the labor market in the conditions of decreasing population as a key issue for Estonia. The economy needs a change that would offer jobs that create more added value. Estonia's educational expenses per capita are higher than the European average, while there is strong shortage of people with necessary skills. Estonia currently has 34 000 people at the age range of 15-29 who are neither studying nor working – the related costs amount to 2% of Estonia’s GDP. The report states that the government has done a relatively poor job in mediating labor supply, forecasting labor needs and addressing structural labor market problems. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 4, November 24, 2015)

Estonia and Estonians have proven themselves successfully for foreign companies. The head of foreign investments of Enterprise Estonia Märt Helmja sees that more and more service centers of large international companies are established in Estonia. In case of industry, foreign investors are attracted by the short time-scale of getting the factory in operation. Additionally working culture is very good in Estonia. Lately Japanese IT giant Rakuten has invested into two Estonian companies. A big role in these deals was carried by Kosaku Yamaguchi, Enterprise Estonia’s representative in Japan. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 20, November 24, 2015)

The average gross wage was 1045 euros in the 3rd quarter of 2015, showing an increase by 6.9% in comparison to 2014. Median salary rose to 733 euros in comparison to 677. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 9, November 27, 2015)

Estonian startup Funderbeam has created a unique environment for investing and trading with start-up investments. Founder and CEO Kaidi Ruusalepp explained that the system is similar to the stock market – companies can acquire capital from many investors and investors can later trade with their investments. This is a very important feature, as so far start-up investments had no immediate liquidity – profitable exit usually takes years. Funderbeam’s system is like a small stock market with smaller companies, smaller sums, riskier and more emotional investments.  The service would be opened to all users in the first quarter of next year. The headquarters of Funderbeam has moved to London due to better connectivity, simplicity of receiving foreign investments and better tax climate for investors. (Postimees, page 9, November 30, 2015)

Estonian social system is the 10th best in EU comparison. Education system was pointed out as exceptionally good – Estonian students reached the second place after Finland in PISA tests. Secondly family- and environment politics was pointed out. Estonian parent’s salary is one of the highest in OECD and the CO2 emission is low. The government is acknowledged for keeping the lowest level of state debt in EU throughout the crisis. Current state debt is 9.7% of the GDP, which is 15 percentage points lower from the second place Luxemburg. (Äripäev, page 7, December 1, 2015)

According to the Swedbank survey of the competitiveness of Baltic Sea countries, Estonia’s business climate is at average level, having improved for the third subsequent year. Estonia’s rating was lower than the rating of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany, but higher than in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. (Postimees, page 9, December 3, 2015)

During the first year of e-residency project, Estonia has gained 7000 e-residents, who have created 242 new companies in Estonia. E-residency is the first government secured digital identification system in the world. Most of Estonia’s e-residents are from our close neighbors Finland and Russia. Asia, especially India, is a growing trend. The team of e-residency has started looking for possibilities to offer additional e-services to people, who are not necessarily interested in entrepreneurship: the first companies that collaborate are funding platforms Funderbeam and Fundwise. Taavi Kotka, the founder of the e-residency project, notes that the success during the initial phase exceeds expectations, but there is very long way ahead. Kotka notes the trends in the global job market show that more and more people wish to become entrepreneurs. He adds that by 2035 the world is predicted to reach 1 billion digital nomads, whose residency is not tied to a single country. (Äripäev, page 8, December 3, 2015)

Indian IT-giant HCL Technologies with an annual net turnover of more than six billion dollars opened a regional development center in Tallinn yesterday. The new center will start offering IT services to the whole Europe and hire roughly half of is 100-employee staff from Estonia. The company's customers include Statoil, Electrolux, Deutche Bank and Nordea. President of Financial Services of HCL Technologies Rahul Singh said that the company chose Estonia because of the high level of IT expertise of the local workforce as well as a favorable location that allows the company to reach its clients in a single day. HCL Technologies offers its clients app development, digital and main systems transformation and modernization and infrastructure services. (Postimees, page 9, December 4, 2015)

Estonia stands out with fast increase of tax burden among the developed countries. Tax burden as a fraction of GDP is close to record value this year. Tax revenue has increased more than twice as fast as GDP. At the same time the growth of tax revenue has been faster than the growth of GDP starting from 2012. OECD fresh report highlights Estonia among the countries, where the increase of tax burden has been one of the fastest one in the last year. Analyst from the Ministry of Finance Madis Aben comments that the increase is not related to radical changes in taxation. He sees the reasons behind the increase from one side in the change of tax paying culture and decrease of shadow economy; and from the other side in the change of the structure of economy – economic growth that is based on salary increase and internal consumption is taxed higher than export. Estonian entrepreneurs believe that large increase of tax burden means that Estonia is losing its highly praised competitive advantage as a flexible and entrepreneur-friendly country. (Äripäev, page 4-5, December 8, 2015)

Estonian economic growth in the 3rd quarter is one of the weakest in Europe along with Finland and Greece according to Eurostat data. Estonian GDP decreased by 0.5% in comparison to the 2nd quarter and increased by 0.2% in yearly comparison. At the same time Latvia and Lithuania showed positive trend - yearly growth was 3.3% and 1.7%, respectively. Average GDP growth in euro-zone was 0.3% in comparison to the 2nd quarter and 1.6% in yearly basis. Mainly consumption of both private and public sector was carrying the growth, while export was hindered by deceleration of world trade. (Äripäev, page 10, December 9, 2015)

There were nearly 8900 available jobs in Estonia in the 3rd quarter according to Statistics Estonia, which makes 1.6% of all jobs. The number increased by 4.8% in comparison to the 2nd quarter and by 3.3% in yearly comparison. 57% of free jobs were located in Harju County (including Tallinn), 11% in Tartu County and 8% in East Viru County. The largest increase in the number of available jobs is related to the ICT sector where there were twice as many free jobs in comparison to 2014. (Äripäev, page 15, 2015)

The export of Estonian medical services is stable, despite the decrease of Russian market. Last year the export of medical services grew by nearly 20% and this level has been kept this year despite the weakness of Russian market. (Äripäev, page 12, December 15, 2015)

Estonia has reached 30th position in the United Nations Human Development Index among 188 countries based on 2014 data. In 2013 Estonia was sharing 33rd place with Andorra and in 2012 held 34th place. The index ranks countries by average life expectancy, level of education and GDP per capita. (Postimees, page 4, December 16, 2015)

●海外でIT専門家を募集(“Work in Estonia”プログラム)
Enterprise Estonia started with “Work in Estonia” procurement program in spring with a goal to support Estonian companies in their search for qualified top specialists. The campaign started in Finland, test project was also carried out in Ukraine. Enterprise Estonia believes that “Work in Estonia” provides significant image building for Estonia, pointing out that 50 articles have been published in Finnish media after the start of the program about working in Estonia in IT field. In IT sector the salary gap between Estonia and Finland is not too large and the purchasing power might even be slightly higher in Estonia. So far Estonian companies have received nearly 300 job applications from Finland and about 100 from Ukraine. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 9, December 16, 2015)

Well-known start-up Signwise that offers cloud storage and digital signature services started bankruptcy proceeding. The court session will take place on January 12, during which the court will take a decision about company’s insolvency. (Äripäev, page 11, December 16, 2015)

Estonian company Fortumo that offers mobile payment solutions started collaboration with Sony in India. Fortumo mobile payment system will be developed for the movie streaming environment Sony LIV. Fortumo business manager Gerri Kodres mentioned that only very few people own a bank card in India, while the ownership rate of smart phones is increasing fast. (Äripäev, page 11, December 16, 2015)

This year was quite controversial in Estonian agriculture. It was very tough time for milk producers and pig farmers, while grain farmers had record high harvest this year and cattle breeders enjoyed the best purchasing prices. Currently both in milk and pork sector many producers have decided to sell their animals and finish their activity. Estonian beef industry still has huge potential, as we have plenty of good grasslands. (Äripäev, page 12-13, December 17, 2015)

Estonia remains among undeveloped countries with its e-health system, despite of the otherwise good e-state reputation. E-health foundation was established in 2005 by the Social Ministry, hospitals and doctors with a goal to create an independent competence center that develops e-services. Estonian e-health got a very tough evaluation by the report of the National Audit Office in 2014 with two main recommendations: take strategic planning to Social Ministry and stop working on new e-services before the already initiated ones are working properly. With its new e-health strategy Social Ministry has sent a proposal to the parliament to cut the budget of E-health Foundation by 22% and create strategic council and development team at the ministry to boost the progress. Until recently, digital prescriptions have been the only widely used e-service in healthcare. E-ambulance, digital registry, patient portal, e-ambulance, quality management, feedback system and health information system are essential projects that have been initiated, but not properly finalized so far. (Postimees, page 4-5, December 18, 2015)

People leave Estonia mainly because of low salaries, while reasons for returning are emotional: relatives in Estonia, preference to live in Estonia and also a wish that children could learn in Estonian school. Expatriates’ Program by the Ministry of Education supports Estonian language studies of children, who are growing up abroad and offers scholarships for studying in Estonia. (Postimees, page 7, December 18, 2015)

Swedish capital based AS Toftan, plans to invest 32 million euros to a new sawmill in Southern Estonia – this would be the largest investment in this century in timber industry sector. The new sawmill would be built in the neighborhood of Graanul Invests pellet factory and the two companies plan to collaborate in establishing heating and electricity network to support renewable energy development. 42 additional people will be hired due to expansion; the first new employees would start already in summer. (Äripäev, page 4-5, December 21, 2015)

According to the overview by SEB economic analysts, the main risk factor in Estonian export is too large concentration: 10 largest exporters take up 25% and 100 largest exporters about half of the total export volume. Autumn months this year have been extremely bad in export figures: in September export decreased by 10% and in October by 12%. (Äripäev, page 8, December 21, 2015)

●TransferWise 社(電子国際送金),銀行と協力
TransferWise announced yesterday that it will start collaborating with LHV – starting from new year it is possible to make international TransferWise transfers directly through LHV mobile banking. Head of TransferWise Taavet Hindrikus notes that in 2015 TransferWise developed from regional company to global company. In January 2015 TransferWise was still European company, but then it entered American and now also Australian markets. Next steps are New Zeeland, Singapore and Hong Kong; also Japan is under consideration. (Postimees, page 10, December 22, 2015)

Estonian education system is one of the most equal ones in the world, positioning at 4th place after South Korea, Singapore and Japan according to the World Economic Forum report. The report is based on accessibility, quality and results and considers full education system from kindergarten to vocational education. (Postimees, page 3, December 29. 2015)

The analysts of Financial Ministry predict that the purchasing power of Estonians would grow in 2016, as the increase in salaries is very likely to, once again, exceed the increase in prices. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 16, January 5, 2016)

Summary of the highlights at Estonian start-up venue in 2015. More than 94 million euros was invested in Estonian start-ups in 2015, this is more than ever in history and 30% increase in comparison to 2014. At the same time more than half of the investments came from TransferWise alone and the total number of transactions decreased from 38 to 26, which indicates that Estonia follows the general situation in Europe, where investors tend to be conservative. Next largest investments after TransferWise were made to the manufacturer of ultra-capacitors Skeleton Technologies (9.8 million euros, mostly from Harju Electricity), customer relationship management tool Pipedrive (7.8 million euros) and language learning technology Linguist (7.4 million euros from Rakuten). Several novel and surprising ideas were introduced - notable highlights include Starship Technologies that develops self-driving package delivery robot; Japanese start-up 16Lab that develops smart-ring Ozon, which is being worked out by Estonian CTO Tõnu Samuel; and EdFox that is working on electronic textbook of mathematics that should soon be tested in 8 schools. The most important successful sales was done by Fits.me that was bought by Rakuten. (Äripäev, page 8-9, January 5, 2016)

On January 5, 2016 Finnish Estonian transportation memorandum was signed in Tallinn, including an agreement to investigate the potential of creating a tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki. Detailed feasibility study is expected to be completed at the second half of 2018. The cost of the analysis is 1.2 million euros, of which 15% is funded by EU. In a positive scenario Tallinn-Helsinki train connection could be working already in 20 years. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 9, January 6, 2016)

Estonian start-up GoWorkaBit that offers an online agency for finding short-term workers hopes to reach million euros of turnover this year. Last year the company’s total turnover was 430 000 euros and the company has nearly 50 000 customers. (Äripäev, page 7, January 6, 2016)

First 5 years passed from introducing euro in Estonia on January 1; during this period Estonia has experienced smaller inflation than expected. Consumer tax index has increased 8.1% within five years. During the same period the salaries have grown by 32%. According to TNS Emor data the cost of basic food basket has remained nearly the same, as the prices of several relevant food products like milk, butter and meat have decreased. (Postimees, page 10, January 7, 2016)

The daughter company Monsanto Growth Ventures of the US agriculture giant Monsanto invested to Estonian start-up VitalFileds last year. VitalFields has created a tool to make the management of agriculture company paper-free. The goal is to conquer the markets of strong agriculture countries Germany and Poland. Vital Fields received in total 1.1 million euros of investments from Monsanto Growth Ventures and SmartCap last year. (Postimees, page 10, January 7, 2016)

Sales of new cars increased by 28% in December in yearly comparison, with 1269 sold vehicles. Most popular models were Nissan Qasqai, Toyota Avensis and Volkswagen Passat. (Äripäev, page 7, January 11, 2016)

Lithuanian minister of energetics Rokas Masiulis told that Lithuanian LNG terminal could cover the needs of the whole market of Baltic States, but Estonia can build new terminals according to its decisions. Masilius visited Tallinn on Thursday and Friday last week, discussing the energy collaboration possibilities with minister of economy Kristen Michal.  (Äripäev, page 8-9, January 11, 2016)

According to the Institute of Economic Research, the level of investments of Estonian companies is even lower than expected. 10% of the companies did not invest at all and 27% of the companies decreased the fraction of investments in 2015. Entrepreneurs do not foresee considerable increase in investments in 2016. The main issues that prevent new investments are low demand and lack of money. (Äripäev, page 9, January 11, 2016)

According to the data of Statistics Estonia, consumer price index decreased in December by 0.7% in comparison to November and 0.9% in comparison to December 2014. Goods were 0.5% cheaper and services 1.5% cheaper in December 2014. Consumer tax index was most influenced by cheaper electricity, gas and heating (-8.8%), motor fuel (-12.3%), milk and milk products (-8.3%) and the increase of the price of alcoholic beverages (+6.8%). (Äripäev, page 9, January 11, 2016)

Arvo Pärt was the most frequently performed living composer in 2015 for the 5th consecutive year according to the world’s largest classical music events database Bachtrack statistics. Conductor of Berlin Comic Opera, Estonian Kristiina Poska was the most frequently conducting female in 2015. (Postimees, page 3, January 13, 2016)

Estonia holds a leading position in Europe for digitalization of court proceedings and is now reaching a next milestone, which should make courts completely paper-free. Estonian court institutions yearly spend about 850 000 euros for preparing documents in paper. The paper-free initiative brings benefits also to e-residents, who can then electronically access all materials and take part of court trials without physical presence. (Postimees, page 7, January 13, 2016)

Tax and Customs Board collected 5.94 milliard euros of taxes in 2015, which is 2.3% more than predicted in the state budget and 7.7% more than in 2014. The largest contributor to the increase was better gain of income tax, where significant contribution came from the extraordinary dividend payments of Swedbank. (Postimees, page 13, January 13, 2016)

Last year the investments in business real estate exceeded the volume of 2007 economic boom with more than 450 million euros in total. (Äripäev, cover page and page 4-5, January 13, 2016)

Minister of economy Kristen Michal plans to privatize several state-owned companies during the upcoming years. In his view Eesti Teed (performs road maintenance on state highways), Omniva (Estonian post services), EVR Cargo (railway transportation), Metrosert (National Metrology Institute) and Teede Tehnokeskus (Road Engineering Centre) could be taken to the stock market, partially privatized or united. (Äripäev, page 6, January 13, 2016)

According to the OECD report Estonia’s productivity growth has sharply dropped, while employment expenses keep increasing. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 9, January 14, 2016)

According to Statistics Estonia, in November 2015, exports of goods decreased by 4% and imports stayed on the same level compared to November 2014. The decrease in exports was mostly influenced by a decrease in mineral products and electrical equipment. In November 2015, exports from Estonia amounted to 1 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 1.1 billion euros at current prices. The trade deficit was 102 million euros and it increased by 35 million euros compared to November 2014. Most important export partners in November were Sweden (18%), Finland (16%) and Latvia (10%). Link to Statistics Estonia: http://www.stat.ee/277518. (Äripäev, page 11, January 14, 2016)

Tallink opened a new logistics center in Maardu. The 14 500 m2 large logistics center was ordered by Tallink majority owner, investment company Infortar and built by Merko Ehitus. (Postimees, page 3, January 15, 2016)

The Jordan project of Estonian Energy gets 1.6 milliard dollars of funding from China. Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Attrat Power Company (which Partially belongs to Estonian Energy) concluding financing agreements for establishing oil shale power plant in Jordan. The total cost of the project is estimated to be 2.1 milliard dollars and production of electricity should be achieved by 2019. (Äripäev, page 11, January 15, 2016)

Economic development and demographic situation hint that Estonia would soon be transformed from emigration country to immigration country according to the comments of Tiit Tammaru, professor of population geography at Tartu University. Net migration has become closer to the balance during the recent year. In 2015 the largest change was the increased number of immigrants: in 2015 6600 people came to Estonia, while during the past 5 years the number has been 3000-4000. A large contribution comes from return migration. Emigration from Estonia has stabilized. 6700 emigrants of last year is comparable to previous years. According to preliminary estimate the population of Estonia was 1 311 800 people on January 1, which is 1500 people le than one year ago. 1400 of the decrease came from negative natural population growth and 100 from the negative net migration. (Postimees, page 8, January 16, 2016)

Taavi Kotka: lack of services for e-residents. The project of e-residency has created a new space of economy, which, in addition to us, involves 8000 experimenters from 130 different countries, who wish to see as many attractive services as possible. Currently only a few simple services are available. Starting from August last year 600 companies that are related to e-residents have been entered to business registry. Bank accounts have been opened; digital signatures and authentication are used. However, no real added value has been created for Estonian economy, since we still have nothing much to offer. Estonia should create a problem-free economic environment, while openly sharing information with the country, where e-resident is a taxed resident. The amount of entrepreneurs has exponentially increased in the world during recent years along with the rise of sharing economy and increasing number of freelancers. Offering them good digital environment could be the niche of Estonia. (Äripäev, page 14, January 18, 2016)

According to Eurostat the relationship of tax revenues to GDP grew in 20 EU member states, including Estonia, comparing 2013 and 2014. In Estonia the tax revenue as a fraction of GDP grew from 31.7% in 2013 to 32.5% in 2014, which is higher than both in Latvia and Lithuania. (Äripäev, page 7, January 19, 2016)

Mitsubishi electric cars that were distributed to social workers around Estonia three years ago have sustained their condition well. Local municipalities, who are going to take over the cars from the Ministry of Social Affairs, are not afraid of high maintenance costs. (Postimees Online, January 18, 2016)

Scandinavian telecom operator TeliaSonera's Estonian brands Elion and EMT were merged into Telia Estonia . The rebranding makes it possible for costumers to pay the standard price for mobile data when roaming in countries that TeliaSonera services. (Postimees, page 6, January 21, 2016)

Estonia positions at 34th place in Bloomberg top of innovative economies. This is a surprisingly low evaluation after Russia (12th place) and Lithuania (32nd place). The most innovative economies of the world are South-Korea, Germany, Sweden and Japan. (Äripäev, page 3, January 22, 2016)

Starting from today Estonian start-up Investly is offering crowd-financing service for businesses. Currently large amount of business loans are taken for covering the period before the delivery of the product and invoice payment deadline and Investly is offering a more flexible solution to sell the invoices at an auction such that companies would receive money immediately. Investly recently included 600 000 euros from Austrian venture capital foundation Speedinvest. (Äripäev, page 11, January 22, 2016)

According to the Ida-Viru division of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation at least 163 people more people in the region are predicted to lose their jobs in the first half of this year on top of the massive redundancies that VKG has announced. In February the municipal bus company Narva Bussiveod will cease operations, making 76 people redundant. Due to the completion of the Auvere power plant of Eesti Energia, the energy engineering company GE Alstom Estonia will reduce its workforce, letting go 19 workers in February and another 68 in May. The state-owned postal company Omniva also plans to reduce its workforce in Ida-Viru County in the summer. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 4, January 25, 2016)

Real estate market is stable in Estonia and other Baltic States. Foreign investors are mainly attracted by higher potential productivity rate in comparison to Scandinavia or Central Europe. At the same time the market and investment objects are small, and the market is rather dominated by many local investors. Beneficial loan conditions also support the Baltic real estate market. (Äripäev, page 13, January 25, 2016)

1.8 million foreign tourists visited Estonia last year during 11 months; half of the tourists came from four countries: Finland, Latvia, Russia and Germany. The amount of Russian tourists decreased by 34%, while the largest increase came from Japan, US and Denmark – 34%, 28% and 21%, respectively. (Eesti Päevaleht, page 21, January 26, 2016)

Minister of economy Kristen Michal sent a proposal to the ministries yesterday to support the renovation of internet networks of schools with 13.2 million euros during 2016-2020. Most of the financing would come from EU Social Fund. Michal commented that we are in a situation, where 100% of schools have internet connection, but the speed is often too low to fully support the usage of modern ITC technology in learning. (Äripäev, page 3, January 28, 2016)

Estonia ranks at 23rd place worldwide in the 21st edition of the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International on Wednesday, gaining 70 points during evaluation, which is one point more than last year. Of Estonia's Baltic neighbors, Lithuania is in place 32 with 61 points and Latvia in place 40 with 55 points. Estonia ranks in the middle - 14-15 place – among the 31 EU and Western Europe countries. Japan ranks at 18th position, Russia at 119th and Ukraine at 130 position out of 168 considered countries. (Äripäev, page 6, January 28, 2016)

Japanese market requires top level products and correct communication from the exporters. Many Estonian companies are successfully exporting to Japan, exported products include manufactured and untreated wood, food products (milk, fish, alcohol, sweets), design products (textile and furniture) and IT services. Head of OÜ Liimeister Vello Kaasen, who exports wooden sheep to Japan, notes that Estonian and Japan are similar from the souls – we share common understandings, interests and beliefs. Seven main recommendations are given for expanding to Japanese market: know the Japanese culture, ask help from support institutions like Enterprise Estonia, take time and be patient, be consistent and profound, be active in product development and work out good marketing strategies, and go to Japan in person to make personal contacts. (Äripäev, page 12-13, January 28, 2016)