Estonia has an open economy and, therefore, international co-operation forms an inseparable part of the Ministry’s activities in both the immediate regions and in more distant countries that feature some economic interests for Estonia.
The Ministry also supports the attempts of entrepreneurs to reach new markets by supporting their business missions or establishing frameworks for economic co-operation between countries and entrepreneurs.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications represents Estonia’s positions in all the most important international economic organisations. The most influential are the World Trade Organisation or the WTO, which Estonia became a member of in 1999; and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or the OECD. Estonia became of full member of the OECE in 2010.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD for short, is a forum of economically advanced democratic countries in Paris.
The OECD was established on 30 September 1961 as the successor to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC); it includes 30 countries and its Secretary General has been, since 1 June 2006, Angel Gurría, the representative of Mexico.
The criteria for the OECD membership are the following:
- Open market economy
- Democratic pluralism
- Respecting human rights
The mission of the OECD includes the promotion of economic development of its member and non-member states and expansion of world trade. The OECD is not a financial organisation and does not grant loans or subsidies.
The OECD is mostly involved in collection of economic indicators of its member states and improving the analytical methods to contribute to more efficient shaping of economic and political activities. The OECD also works on analysis and anticipation of social and environment protection problems and the development of multilateral trade systems.
The OECD members co-operate closely with each other and its various institutions focus on both general macro economy problems and issues linked to different economic sectors. The OECD publishes comparative reviews of economies of member and partner states. The OECD publishes regular statistical outlooks on different sectors, analytical overviews and recommendations for shaping various sectoral policies.
Extensive co-operation with several other global organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), is pursued for the purposes of economic analysis.
The focus of the organisation has broadened and now includes the development issues and advising of non-member economies. The OECD has established a non-member economy co-operation centre that is used for the purposes of political dialogue and the implementation of country and regional initiatives. Country initiatives are used to co-operate with Russia and China while regional initiatives cover South American, South Asian and South-East European countries.
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Estonia’s participation in the OECD
The administrative contact point of the OECD in Estonia is the Economic Development Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications; the representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Investment Agency of the EE, trade unions and business sector are also involved.
Non-profit organisations participate in the work of the contact point via informal contacts and submit proposals with respect to the different aspects of foreign investments and guidelines.
The Estonian Trade Union Confederation, the Estonian Employers Confederation and the Chamber of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Estonia help to distribute information about the compliance with the OECD guidelines, events organised by the national contact point and developments in international investments.
The members of the OECD Watch have the following objectives:
Contribution to the work and surveillance of the OECD International Investment Committee.
Testing the efficiency of the OECD guidelines for international enterprises as a corporative reporting tool.
Providing information about the work of the investment committee to citizens, above all, in developing countries.
Advising NGOs about filing complaints with respect to enterprises who have allegedly broken the OECD guidelines.
World Trade Organization (WTO)
The World Trade Organization organises negotiations about trade and the liberalisation of trade of services and the development of new legal ground rules for different sectors.
Estonia’s participation in the multilateral trading system started by acquiring observer status back in June 1992 and culminated with Estonia being granted full WTO (World Trade Organization) membership on 13 November 1999.
The World Trade Organization was established in 1995 as the successor of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland.
The WTO’s top level decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference, consisting of the representatives of all the members, which meets at least once every two years.
Apart from the regular sessions of the councils, committees and working groups of the WTO, Estonia takes part in multilateral negotiations (for example, in the areas of agriculture and trade of services), joining process for new members, and fulfils the commitments taken upon becoming a WTO member. Considering the trading interests of Estonia, one of the important spheres is participation in negotiations with countries that wish to join the WTO – large number of these countries (above all, the CIS countries) are important trading partners for Estonia.
To make the most of this opportunity, Estonia has participated, as an observer, in the work of Committee 133 of the European Union that works on foreign trade, and taken part in the work of working groups that focus upon the countries of interest for us and that are considering joining the WTO.
Since 1 May 2004, Estonia has participated, as a member of the European Union, in the work of multi-lateral trading system and the WTO via the structures of the European Union. We have taken over all the rights and duties of the European Union in the WTO by joining the Union.
We continue to be a member of the WTO; however, we are represented at the negotiations by the European Commission, which has the competence to pursue the foreign trade policies and related instruments of the European Union in general. The European Commission’s mandate for negotiations is made available by the member states and the common position that serves the basis for such negotiations will be decided in the Committee 133 working group of the Council of the European Union, which works with all the foreign trade issues that concern the European Union.
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