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President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma who is on an official visit in India opened the Estonia–India business seminar in New Delhi today. In her opening speech, she noted that, despite its size, India ranks 36th among Estonia’s trading partners. To change that and to stimulate the economic relations between the two countries, an Estonian business delegation who will hopefully be able to find fruitful solutions is staying in India simultaneously with the Riigikogu delegation. “We have concluded the necessary agreements and now is the time to build on this foundation,” said Ergma.

The President of the Riigikogu recalled from history that India had been Estonia’s main trading partner in the Afro-Asian region in 1920s and the older generation remembers Indian tea and rice as well as jute from that time. Estonia exported paper, plywood, aluminium products and chocolate to India. She observed that nowadays we are united by a passion for ICT. Skype was developed in Estonia, and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and the e-Governance Academy are located in Tallinn. “I am sure that India and Estonia could exchange experience on a totally equal level, as regards ICT,” she asserted.

Ergma also touched upon Estonia’s nearest goal, the adoption of the euro. After that, Estonia will become the most integrated state of Northern Europe participating in all the four integration programmes of the Western democratic countries including the euro zone, the common visa or the Schengen area, the European Union and NATO. Estonia has concluded the accession negotiations with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Ergma pointed out the fact that although Estonia with its population of a million and India with its population of a billion are different in scale, it should be taken into account that Estonia is part of the larger common market of the EU with 500 million people. “For Indian companies, it could be an ideal place for entering the EU market, especially the Nordic countries and North-Western Russia,” she said.

Besides opening the business seminar, the President of the Riigikogu also met the Minister of State for External Affairs of India Preneet Kaur and Leader of Opposition of the Lower House of the Parliament Sushma Swaraj today.

Together with Ergma, Chairman of the Environment Committee Mart Jüssi, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Enn Eesmaa and Members of the Riigikogu Peeter Tulviste and Raivo Järvi, and Secretary General of the Riigikogu Heiki Sibul are also staying in India as members of the Riigikogu delegation.

The Riigikogu Press Service