This year Estonia celebrates its 95th birthday, and 22 years have passed since regaining independence.
I am happy to say that Estonia is a competitive country with growing economy. Under the unstable conditions prevailing in world economy, we have managed well. This year Estonia is expected to show the fastest economic growth in the Eurozone - 3.1 percent. The public sector debt burden remains among the lowest in Europe.
With the support of conservative financial policy we have been able to maintain and create stability that is essential for growth. The percentage of export of Estonian goods and services in world trade has risen to be the highest in recent history. Our economy has been flexible enough to adjust to the rapidly changing conditions of Europe and the world in general.
In the Index of Economic Freedom of the world compiled by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, we have risen from the 16th place of last year to 13th. We have achieved a place among the leaders in economic freedom, among other things, thanks to the simple and uniform tax system and openness to foreign investments.
More openness and different liberties can be found in Estonia. We are third in the world for our freedom of the press, by internet freedom even first. According to the study of the Canadian Fraser Institute, German Liberales Institute and Cato Institute in the USA, we share 9th-10th place with Japan in terms of civic freedom. Our employment has grown more than expected and unemployment is lower than during the past three years.
In Estonia we know how important it is to contribute to areas that help the country in increasing its competitiveness. Among these important areas are research and development and innovation. Since 2002 the total expenses on research and development activities have increased by seven times. Back then we invested into research and development activities in total 55.7 million or 0.72% of the GDP, in 2011 it was already 384.5 million or 2.41% of the GDP.
With the support of the demand-based research and favourable innovation environment Estonian scientists, students and entrepreneurs have developed many applications recognized in the world. The e-elections system, solar cells based on monograin powder technology, developing the cardiac stimulators that observe body functions and other achievements confirm competitiveness of our research activities and scientists.
Stable economy, low public debt, openness to innovation and various liberties give an idea of the success Estonia has managed to achieve.
Welcome to Estonia!
Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia