General information on development cooperation

Estonian objectives and priorities for development cooperation policy are outlined in the Principles of Estonian Development Cooperation approved by the Riigikogu (Parliament) in January 2003. More detailed pol- icy is set out in the Strategy for Estonian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid for 2011-2015 and its Implementation Plan for the years 2011-2012, which were approved by the government in January 2011.

Estonian development cooperation does not include specific Aid for Trade (Af T) programmes. Since 2008, Estonia has made annual financial contributions to the WTO Enhanced Integrated Framework and to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) Global Trust Fund.

Official development assistance (ODA) individual commitments /gap to agreed targets (total ODA, Africa, and LDCs)

  • After several years at a constant level, Estonia’s ODA increased to €18 million in 2011, representing 0.12 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) .
  • To reach its individual ODA target of 0.33 per cent of GNI by 2015, Estonia would need to increase its aid by €42 million – which is not feasible in the current economic situation, given the potential high vulnerability of Estonia’s small and open economy. The Estonian government is aiming towards a more realistic 0.17 per cent for ODA by 2015.
  • “Realistic, verifiable actions for meeting individual ODA commitments until 2015” taken in 2012 include the following:
  • A slight increase in the development budget;
  • Government’s decision to double the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s development cooperation and humanitarian aid budget line on bilateral and multilateral trade for 2013;
  • Striving to reach the 0.17 per cent target by fixing a minimum-level contribution in the abovementioned strategy, which will be subject to yearly updates and possible upward corrections depending on the economic situation.

No measures were taken or are planned to contribute to the EU27 target to channel at least 50 per cent of an EU collective ODA increase to Africa. Estonia does not currently foresee any significant bilateral development cooperation activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, as Estonia has neither financial nor human resource capacity to add value and implement effective government projects. Estonia is open to responding to the targeted interests of African states to the e-Government projects and annually supports young voluntary work in the region of sub-Saharan Africa.

However, a large majority of Estonian ODA is multilateral – over half of it is channeled via the EU budget and the European Development Fund (EDF), and a large share to UN funds/programmes and the International Development Association (IDA). For example, 50 per cent of IDA activities are targeted towards Africa. Estonia strongly supports the increased focus of these organizations on LDCs, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, which indirectly increases the share of funding for Africa in Estonian ODA as well. In addition, given long-term humanitarian needs in Africa, a large portion of Estonia’s humanitarian aid has been directed to Africa’s ‘for- gotten humanitarian crises’ (Sahel, Horn of Africa, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire etc.) via voluntary contributions to international humanitarian organizations such as UNHCR, UNICEF, ICRC, WFP etc.

Estonia has declared that it is not able to reach the target of 0.15-0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to LDCs by 2010 and onwards. Estonia respects the Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs, in the strictest sense of Para 83. Estonia belongs to Category (d) – i.e. donor countries that “exercise individual best efforts to increase their ODA to LDCs with the effect that collectively their assistance to LDCs will significantly increase”. The majority of Estonian ODA is channeled through multilateral organizations (EC, EU budget, EDF, IDA, UN programmes), which focus their activities on LDCs.

Estonian bilateral development cooperation is focused primarily on countries to which it can offer added value given its own experiences, and which are ready to move towards a democratic society built on human rights. Consequently, Estonia’s priority partner countries for bilateral development cooperation are Georgia, Moldavia, Ukraine and Afghanistan. Besides these countries, Estonia is cooperating with project partners – developing countries interested in Estonia’s experience in some particular area.

When Estonia acceded to the EU in 2004, it took on the agreements concluded by the EU with third countries. For example, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (affecting relations with Russia and the Common- wealth of Independent States countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine) regulated trade relations.

In 2012, Estonia opened an embassy in India, to enhance political and economic (trade and investments) relationships; it is planning to open another in Brazil (2013-2014).

Improved effectiveness of support to developing countries

  • Mutual accountability arrangements account for 10-25 per cent of Estonia’s priority countries.
  • Focus on results: Estonia participates in country-level results frameworks and platforms in less than 25 per cent of its priority countries owing to minimum manpower in its embassies and/or a lack of donor coordination activities in the partner country.

Specific actions in 2012 to improve the transparency of aid flows:

  • Preparations for an open standard of aid transparency in process.
  • Yearly reporting to the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) as a non-DAC member;
  • Functioning Estonian development cooperation online database (since 2009), accessible to the public through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
  • Exploring opportunities with IATI compatibility.

Estonia has also an Approved Development Cooperation Country Strategy Paper for Georgia (October 2012). The mechanisms for data collection and reporting are:

  • Online database (filled in by governmental institutions);
  • e-Correspondence.

The monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are:

  • Estonian diplomats in the beneficiary country;
  • Random audits by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • Monitoring and evaluation outings from Tallinn.
Aid for Trade Strategy

Estonia does not have an operational AfT strategy. However, the Strategy for Estonian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid 2011-2015, which is an area strategy regulating the activities of the Estonian public sector, states that supporting economic development in developing countries and the liberalization of the international trade system are two of the main goals of Estonian development cooperation. Accordingly, Estonia actively supports the liberalization of the rules of global trade and the curbing of export subsidies and domestic subsidies as well as reducing customs restrictions in the WTO. Furthermore, Estonia sup- ports the line of taking different measures aimed at providing least-developed countries (LDCs) with more favorable conditions in the processes of WTO accession or in ongoing negotiations in the WTO. Estonia has also been supportive towards the modernization of the European Union (EU) Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in order to shape the system to offer the most preferential conditions for LDCs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates Estonia’s development cooperation projects, and other government institutions implement specific projects within the scope of their competence.


Principal official agency responsible for TCB assistance to developing countries

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Contact details

Tel.: +372 6 377 000

Fax: +372 6 377 099

+ 372 6 377 098

E-mail: riia.salsa [at] mfa.ee mari.aru. [at] mfa.ee kaili.terras [at] mfa.ee

Physical Address
External Economic and Development Cooperation Department Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Islandi väljak 1
15049 Tallinn

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: is the main agency responsible for Estonia’s development cooperation. The general goal of Estonian development cooperation is to contribute to the eradication of world poverty and to attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Trade capacity building is not a priority activity of Estonian development cooperation.

Other government and official agencies with responsibilities directly relevant to TCB

Enterprise Estonia
Contact details

Tel.: +372 6 279 700

Fax: +372 6 279 701

E-mail: eas [at] eas.ee

Physical Address
Lasnamäe 2
11412 Tallinn

Enterprise Estonia: Established in 2000, Enterprise Estonia promotes business and regional policy in Estonia and is one of the largest institutions within the national support system for entrepreneurship, providing financial assistance, counselling, cooperation opportunities and training for entrepreneurs, research institutions, and the public and non-profit sectors.

The principal purpose of operations is to increase the level of well-being in society by working towards the following five strategic objectives:

  • Increase in the number of sustainable and quickly growing companies;
  • Increase in the export capability and internationalization of Estonian companies;
  • Increase in the product development and technological capabilities of Estonian companies;
  • Increase in revenue from tourism;
  • Integrated and balanced regional development.

Following Estonia’s accession to the EU, Enterprise Estonia became one of the agencies implementing EU structural funds in Estonia. During the 2007-2013 EU financing period, €784 million (EEK 12 billion) of the more than €3.4 billion (EEK 53 billion) of structural aid to Estonia has been implemented by Enterprise Estonia.

2013 has been the last year in the 2007-2013 EU financing period. As a result, the proportion of support in its operations has decreased compared with previous periods, and greater attention is being devoted to training events, promoting entrepreneurship awareness and other activities to develop human resources. Enterprise Estonia’s strategic priorities are already primarily linked to the development of a strategy for the next seven years (2014-2020).

Other offical and NON-governmental organizations involved

Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership (ECEAP)
Contact details

Tel: +372 631 7951

Fax: +372 631 7951

Email: eceap [at] eceap.eu

Physical Address
Tonismagi st 2
10122 Tallinn

Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership (ECEAP): To upgrade Estonia’s already solid commitment towards the Eastern Partnership (EaP, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in c-operation with the Estonian School of Diplomacy created ECEAP, launched on 1 January 2011.

ECEAP is financed mainly through development cooperation funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sida and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs are additional supporters of the Center’s activities. The European Commission (EC) has also supported projects.

The activities of the Center are directed above all towards the six EU EaP countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

ECEAP arranges training courses for senior and mid-level officials in order to strengthen the administrative capacities of the EaP countries and their ability to cooperate with the EU. ECEAP also offers young diplomats, civil servants and civil society representative’s scholarships to participate in post-graduate training pro- vided by the Estonian School of Diplomacy, and conducts EaP-related research, seminars, roundtables and conferences.

The EaP is an EU initiative held under the European Neighborhood Policy since 2009. EU cooperation with the partner countries is divided into four platforms:

  1. Democracy, Good Governance and Stability;
  2. Economic Integration and Convergence with EU Policies;
  3. Energy Security; and
  4. Contacts between People.

On a bilateral level, the EaP aims to attain close cooperation through association agreements, free trade, visa liberalization and many other forms of enhanced integration. Estonia prioritizes the EaP countries in terms of foreign policy, economic relations and development cooperation.

Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECCI)
Contact details

Tel.: +372 604 0060

Fax: +372 604 0061

E-mail: koda [at] koda.ee

Physical Address
Toom-Kooli 17
10130 Tallinn

Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECCI): The ECCI is a private, voluntary membership chamber. Today, it is the largest business representation organization in the country. As of January 2012, it had almost 3,200 members. More importantly, according to a study carried out by Krediidiinfo (Credit Info Estonia), the net turnover of the ECCI members constitutes more than 41 per cent of the net turnover of all Estonian companies; the owner’s equity of ECCI members constitutes about 36 per cent of the capital of all Estonian companies; and net profits equal 42 per cent of that of all Estonian companies. The ECCI’s members account for over 85 per cent of Estonia’s total exports. These enterprises are predominantly in the textile, metal, timber, construction and food industries. The majority of the ECCI’s membership represents small and medium-size businesses (95 per cent).

The mission of the ECCI is to develop entrepreneurship in Estonia, and it is also an active partner to the Parliament, government and ministries in designing economic policy. Whenever tax policies, corporate law, laws on property and obligations, foreign trade and EU-related issues or professional qualification are discussed, the ECCI speaks actively on the behalf of the Estonian business community.

The ECCI provides many business-related services: consultation (legal, foreign trade, EU-related), business matchmaking (trade missions, trade fair visits, presentations), information services (business contacts, cooperation proposals etc.), training, foreign trade documents etc. The ECCI also hosts the Arbitration Court, which is the only permanent arbitration court in Estonia.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

Supporting better global governance
Training on SPS and food safety issues
Training on agricultural statistics
Seminar on adjustment of EU trade legislation