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On Tuesday Tallinn University introduced the study “The Capacity of Estonian Public Sector towards Asia and the Expectations of Enterprises” at the Riigikogu. The study was commissioned by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu.

The study, which was prepared in cooperation of the Tallinn University Institute for Futures Studies, the Institute of Political Science and Governance of Tallinn University and the Competence Centre of Asian Studies of Tallinn University, University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology, admits that in general the institutional capacity of Estonian agencies towards Asia is frail.

“The study finds that there is too little synergy between different activities, not enough coordination that the long-term nature of Asian policy needs. Creation and establishing of positions in Asia simply takes time,” the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson said when he commented the results of the study.

According to the study, there is no mutually agreed-upon clear strategic basis for solving several important issues. There is also lack of people who are familiar with the peculiarities of the region, and lack of knowledge and finances. The critical mass of the enterprises interested in the Asian direction is small, and the Asian cooperation possibilities with neighbouring countries, like Finland and Sweden, or other Member States of the European Union have not been sufficiently developed.

The authors of the study offer three choices for developing the Asian policy of Estonia: ambitious integrated Asian policy; Asian policy that is shaped and realised on a network basis, or developing the Asian direction within the framework of other policies and their instruments, without a separate and comprehensive Asian strategy.

The most important policy recommendation is to make a decision in the nearest future on which path of development it is wanted and considered possible to continue in order to bring back clarity in regard to the purposes the Asian policy of Estonia aims to achieve.

The study makes it clear that it is important to understand and accept the long-term nature of Asian policy. Expectations of rapid success cause tension in the whole action towards Asia and diminish the necessary continuity that the Asian cultural space and the peculiarities of the business traditions there presume. Due to its long reach, the activity in Asian direction cannot be treated as an alternative to activity in some other direction or some other policy.

Thus the Asian markets should not be seen as alternatives to Russian market, but as a relevant market in its own right, because rapid reorientation towards the Asian direction is not possible, the study says.

Regardless of which path of development is chosen, it is important that different parties would accept that choice and it would be accompanied by activities supporting the cooperation between enterprises.

The representatives of public sector and organisations of entrepreneurs connected with activities in the Asian direction were interviewed for the study. Besides interviews, a survey was conducted among the enterprises interested in the Asian direction.