Estonia, one of the European Union’s most digitally advanced economies, on Monday opened its embassy’s new premises as well as a trade and business hub in Singapore.
The Estonian Business Hub, which is located at 18 Robinson Road in the heart of Singapore’s central business district, will serve as an avenue for the two countries to deepen trade and investment ties.
This is the second such hub to open, following the opening in January of the first Estonian Business Hub in Seoul, South Korea.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said at the opening ceremony: “Estonian companies see Singapore as a hub and gateway to South-east Asia. And vice versa, Estonia hopes to be a gateway for Singapore to Europe and the Nordic-Baltic region.”
She said the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the Nordic-Baltic region makes it the world’s ninth-largest economy.
The eight countries in the region – Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden – have a combined population of about 35 million, with a combined GDP of around €2 trillion (S$2.9 trillion).
Acting Prime Minister Lawrence Wong agreed with Ms Kallas, saying both Singapore and Estonia are well placed as launch pads to their respective regions.
“I am glad that our two countries will be deepening our business ties by expanding cooperation to facilitate such business-to-business link-ups, especially in the areas of technology and innovation, ” said Mr Wong, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
He noted that information and communications technology is a promising area to foster business collaboration between the two countries.
In Estonia, government services are available online throughout the year round the clock, with about 98 per cent of businesses established online and 67 per cent of Estonians regularly using digital identification in everyday life.
The advanced digital infrastructure has made Estonia a magnet for start-ups from fintech to cleantech, deeptech and artificial intelligence.
Mr Wong said: “Estonia has a vibrant tech start-up scene and we welcome your companies to use Singapore as a base, forge links with local partners and investors, and work together to expand overseas into this part of the world, in South-east Asia and beyond.”
He added that the recently concluded EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement will make it even easier for Estonian companies to leverage Singapore’s regional hub status.
Embassy officials said the business delegation that accompanied Ms Kallas was the largest ever to accompany an Estonian prime minister and affirms their high level of interest in Singapore.
Ms Kallas said Estonia and Singapore are among the most digitally advanced societies in the world.
“We have a lot to learn from each other, but also to offer the world,” she added.
Mr Priit Turk, Estonian ambassador to Singapore, said while the two countries are thousands of kilometres apart, they share many similarities.
“We both embrace an open economy, adopting new technology, fostering innovation and applying changes swiftly. We clearly have potential for synergy for innovative solutions also at the global scale,” he added.
He said in recent years, Estonia has witnessed a significant shift in its exports to Singapore, transitioning from trade primarily in goods to a more pronounced emphasis on trade in services.
He hoped that the new offices of the Estonian Embassy and the Estonian Business Hub would act as a key point of contact between Estonia and Singapore, facilitating political, economic, and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Source: The Straits Times