Last updated in March 2018
There is an intensive diplomatic exchange between Estonia and Germany. The former Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas visited Berlin in March 2014 for the first time after assuming office, and returned to Germany in May 2016 to attend a German Cabinet meeting at Schloss Meseberg. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Estonia in August 2016. The then Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited Estonia in March 2017 as part of his tour of the Baltic States. Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas paid a visit to Federal Chancellor Merkel on 15 June 2017, and Foreign Minister Sven Mikser was in Berlin on 21 June 2017 for talks with his counterpart Sigmar Gabriel. Regular trips to Estonia by Members of the German Bundestag and high-ranking representatives of Germany’s ministerial administration underline the important position Estonia occupies in German foreign and European policy. A good example is the visit to Estonia by a delegation from the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States in June 2016.
A delegation from the Bundestag Committee on the Digital Agenda visited the Estonian capital Tallinn in October 2015 to gather comprehensive information on e-governance and digital developments in Estonia. In February 2016, an Estonian parliamentary delegation visited Germany at the invitation of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States. A German delegation accompanying Hesse’s European and Federal Affairs Minister Lucia Puttrich visited Estonia in April 2016 to attend the German Spring. This four-week long event is the largest foreign cultural festival in Estonia. It is organised by the Germany Embassy, the Goethe-Institut and a multitude of Estonian partners. Numerous other trips to Estonia by German delegations – and vice versa – have taken place since.
In 2017, Germany was Estonia’s fourth largest trading partner, after Finland, Sweden and Latvia. During the same period, trade in goods between Estonia and Germany was worth 2.4 billion euros, accounting for approximately 10 percent of Estonia’s total foreign trade.
Imports to Estonia were worth a total of 14.7 billion euros in 2017. Germany is the second largest supplier of imports after Finland, accounting for approximately 11 percent (1.75 billion euros) of the Estonia’s total imports.
Estonian exports totalled 12.8 billion euros in 2017, an increase of 8 percent compared with 2016. The main destinations for Estonian exports in 2017 were Finland (16 percent of all exports),Sweden (14 percent) and, in third place, Latvia (9 percent). The biggest increase in exports was to Finland, followed by Russia and Germany. Germany ranked fifth as a destination for Estonian exports, receiving 7 percent of the total. In 2017, Estonian exports to Germany were worth 715 million euros, up from 704 million euros in 2016, 607.8 million euros in 2015, and 589 million euros in 2014.
Germany occupies 12th place among foreign direct investors in Estonia. Sweden remains the largest foreign direct investor in the country, with investments valued at approximately 4 billion euros, or 26 percent of all foreign direct investment in Estonia.
Some 400 companies registered in Estonia have German equity participation. The German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, which has an office in Tallinn, provides direct liaison for German business and industry.
Cultural cooperation between Germany and Estonia has a long tradition. Trade and business relations date back to the Hanseatic League, and the influence of the Baltic German population has endured for 700 years. The strong position of the German language up to the mid-1990s and the influence of German thought on Estonia’s intellectual history have been important factors in preserving cultural ties between Estonians and Germans, even during the period of the Soviet occupation.
After Estonia regained its independence in 1991, cultural relations further intensified. The main players here are the German Embassy and numerous German intermediary organisations, such as the Goethe-Institut (GI), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), as well as other non-governmental organisations and their Estonian partners. Cultural cooperation focuses on promoting the German language, scientific and academic cooperation and the cultural programmes of the GI in Tallinn.
The German Spring, a wide-ranging programme of events showcasing German organisations and their partners, has been held annually in Estonia since 2010. In the past years, German federal states have been guests at the event: Bavaria in 2013, Schleswig-Holstein in 2014, Hesse in 2016 and Baden-Württemberg in 2017. In 2018, the German Spring was held from 9 to 24 April, with the special participation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its Contents.