India – Estonia Relations

India has long-standing historical links with Estonia. Estonian seafarer A J von Krusenstern visited Madras and Calcutta in 1797. The “Pühhapäwa Wahhe-luggemissed” (Sunday Readings) of Otto W. Masing in 1818 was the first written work in Estonian which referred to India.

Following India’s recognition of the Republic of Estonia on 9 September 1991 diplomatic relations were established on 2 December 1991. The Embassy of India in Helsinki is concurrently accredited to Estonia. In March of 2012 Estonia opened its Embassy in New Delhi headed by a Chargé d’Affaires. Estonia appointed a full-fledged Ambassador in its Embassy in Delhi in February 2013. Bilateral relations are cordial and friendly. There have been regular exchanges of Ministerial visits.

High-level visits

From Estonia to India

President Mr. Lennart-Georg Meri – State visit in February 1999

Prime Minister Mr Andrus Ansip in July 2012 (private visit)

From Estonia to India

  • Foreign Minister Mr. Trivimi Velliste in October 1993
  • Foreign Minister Mr. Urmas Paet – November 2008
  • Minister for Economy and Communications Mr. Juhan Parts: 3-8 February 2014.
  • Foreign Minister Mr. Urmas Paet: 12-13 February 2013 to inaugurate Embassy of Estonia.
  • Minister for Education and Research Mr. Jaak Aaviksoo: 13-16 October 2013 to attend Cyber Security Conference.
  • Minister for Justice Mr. Hanno Pevkur: 9-11 December 2013
  • Mr Juhan Parts, Minister for Economic Affairs and Communications February 2014

From India to Estonia

  • Minister of State (Ext Affairs) Shri Salman Khurshid in August 1995
  • Minister of State (Ext Affairs) Shri Digvjay Singh in November 2003
  • Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Shri Praful Patel in October 2011
  • Minister of State for External Affairs Smt Praneet Kaur March 2011
  • Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shri P K Bansal in June 2011 leading a parliamentary delegation
  • Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Shri Sachin Pilot: 15-16 April 2013.
  • Lakshmi Panabaka, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas:14-16 June 2013.
  • Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for State for Environment and Forests: 20-22 September 2013.
  • Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & IT: 11-15 September, 2016.
  • Shri M.J. Akbar, Minister of State of External Affairs: 27-28 May, 2017.

Agreements

  • Declaration of Principles of Cooperation between Estonia and India (in effect from October 15, 1993)
  • Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (signed 15.10.1993 in effect from October 24, 2004)
  • Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation (signed 14.10.1993; in effect from March 13, 2000)
  • Protocol on Bilateral Foreign Office Consultations (signed August 1995)
  • Agreement on Cooperation in Culture, Education, Science, Sports, Arts, Mass Media, Tourism and Youth Affairs (signed October 15, 1993, in effect from November 11,1999)
  • Agreement on Cooperation in Science & Technology (signed February 5, 1999, in effect from 6 August 1999)
  • Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion signed September 19, 2011.
  • MOU on Cooperation in Biotechnology and Higher Education signed October 2013
  • MOU on Cooperation on Capacity Building etc in E-Governance signed February 2014.
  • Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons signed November 2016.

Foreign Office Consultations:

The Foreign Ministries of both countries hold regular consultations on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues. These are led by Secretary in Ministry of External Affairs, India and the Under Secretary of Political Affairs in the Estonian Foreign Ministry. The last round of Foreign Office Consultations were held in New Delhi on 26 August, 2016.

Commercial Relations:

Commercial relations are satisfactory, but there is significant room for enhancing economic engagement especially in information technology, biotechnology and clean energy. Bilateral trade has fluctuated in recent years due to diversion of trade via other countries of European Union to achieve economies of scale. 

Bilateral trade stands at US$200 million in 2016-17, which is almost at the same level as trade in 2015-16. Trade is presently in favour of Estonia. Trade also fluctuates depending on prices of pulp and paper and fertilisers being exported from Estonia to India.

Currently, Estonia is India’s 25th largest trading partner in the EU (Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India 2017). Similarly, for Estonia, India is their 31th largest trading partner globally and the 5th largest in Asia (Statistics Estonia 2017).

Data for bilateral trade for last 3 years:

(In US$ million)

Financial Year

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

India´s Exports to Estonia

68.09

63.68

97.70

India´s Imports from Estonia

118.06

142.04

102.47

Total bilateral trade

186.15

205.72

200.17

Major items of export to Estonia from India: Machinery and equipment, garments, knitwear, iron & Steel articles of leather; saddles and harness, travel goods, handbags, coffee, tea, spices, footwear and pharmaceutical products.

Major Estonian exports to India: Iron and steel, fertilizers, electrical machinery, paper and paperboard; paper pulp, veneer etc.

Investments

In 2015, HCL Technologies opened a development center in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Their office was inaugurated by the President of Estonia. In 2016, Bravo Group of India gained a foothold in Estonia, when it became a major shareholder in Estonia’s Cancer Research Technology Development Centre (VTAK). Goliath Wind OÜ, an Estonian company specializing in the development of state-of-the-art wind turbines incorporating their patented modular ring generators, signed a Joint Venture agreement for a value of €100 million with India-based Steelite Engineering Limited to form Steelite Capella Wind Private Limited in 2016.

ITEC

Estonia is covered under ITEC Programme of the Ministry of External Affairs in India. So far 127 Estonians have attended training programmes and courses in India through ITEC.4 ITEC slots were utilised in 2016-17.

Estonia has computerised 98% of the Government operations and the interface between Government and public. It has also established an e-Governance Academy which is supported by the EU, to promote e-Governance among developing countries. Several officials and policy makers from India, including State Govts have participated in training programmes and study tours organised by the E-Governance Academy in Estonia

Cultural Relations:

There is a strong interest in Estonia for Indian culture.  University of Tartu began teaching of Sanskrit in 1837. Several publications on Sanskrit language and literature were published. In recent years several noted Indian musicians and dancers have given performances in Estonia. It also has a Center for Oriental Studies. Mission has been organising performances in Estonia by Indian cultural troupes sent by ICCR.

There are several private Indian dance groups in Estonia. "Amrita" dance school in Tallinn is engaged in the teaching of Indian classical dances.   There are several training centres for Yoga and Meditation run by local experts. 

Embassy of India has been organising International Day of Yoga for 3 years. India Day was organized in Tallinn on 18 June, 2017 at Nordea Hall. The event was attended by about 1700 people. About 100 artists trained in Bollywood and classical dances participated.

Tourism

In 2016, 3048 tourists from Estonia visited India (Ministry of Tourism, Government of India). Goa is a popular destination for Estonian tourists, but many also head to the Himalayas, such as Ladakh, Leh or Dharamsala. Tourism from Estonia has received a boost through introduction of e-tourist visa scheme for Estonian nationals from June, 2015.  Tourism from India to Estonia is modest.

Indian Community: The Indian community (NRIs and PIOs) in Estonia is small (about 350) including students and floating population.  They are largely engaged in business and restaurants. Some are working for the Singapore-based Tolaram Group.

In 2016, there were 136 Indians pursuing higher education in Estonia (Statistics Estonia 2017). As of August 2016, there were 97 Indian Master’s and Doctoral students in Tallinn University of Technology. Many Indian students have enrolled in the University of Tartu. MoUs were signed in 2013 to support educational and scientific cooperation between Estonia and India specifically in the fields of IT, mathematics and natural sciences. The Estonian Govt has announced 20 scholarships for Indian students who wish to enrol for an accredited Doctoral Programme leading to a PhD in ICT, Material Technology, Environmental Technology, Biotechnology, Power Engineering and Health.

Useful Resources:

Embassy of India, Finland website: www.indianembassy.fi

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInFinland

Twitter : https://twitter.com/IndEmbFinEst

August, 2017

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