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Estonia could be Singapore's Baltic cousin

FROM all accounts, Singapore is doing well in trading with China, the United States, India, Japan and Asean.

However, new markets are always welcome and I believe Singapore will do well to more actively build economic ties with Estonia.

Estonia? Where is it and why should we focus on the little-known nation?

Well, I have just visited the country and met its senior officials, including Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, and it has been an eye-opener.

Estonia and Singapore have much in common as small, progressive, English-speaking nations with transparent, democratic governments.

Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union only some 20 years ago.

But it has been quick to try and catch up with its neighbours.

Today, it is the fastest-growing member of the European Union with a stable pro-business government with no debt.

This is no Greece; in fact, Estonia is an IT-savvy country where Skype was born. Information technology (IT) is extensively used in all spheres of life; paper is practically non-existent in their offices.

Singapore and Estonia could collaborate on IT services, trade, tourism and development of civic society.

On trade, Estonia is the gateway to the Baltic region and an overall market of 300 million consumers in the EU, Russia and central Asia.

Singapore could expand its trade with these countries while facilitating Estonia's links with our region, including North Asia.

In tourism, there is good potential for greater movement of tourists between South-east Asia and the Baltic region covering Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

Finally, Singaporeans grousing about litter in their neighbourhoods would do well to adopt the Estonian-inspired 'Let's do it' civic society campaign that is effectively cleaning up the environment in many countries.

Mano Sabnani ST Forum


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