Foreign trade

After Estonia became a member of the European Union, we formed a part of the common market where common trade policy is implemented.

Foreign trade involves all the countries outside the European Union or third countries and, therefore, all the bilateral or regional agreements concluded by the European Union to promote trade also apply in Estonia.

The development of a legal framework for foreign trade is mainly organised via the World Trade Organisation (WTO); Estonia participates in the organisation via the European Commission, which has the competence required to shape the foreign trade policy of the European Union in general.

In Estonia, the organisation of foreign trade policy is divided up between different ministries:

  • The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is mostly involved in devising the industrial products trading policies. The officials of the Ministry participate in expert groups of sensitive sectors (steel, textile and other industrial sectors, services and investments), technical barriers to trade (technical norms, standards, conformity assessment procedures) and protection of trade of the European Union.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the co-ordination of common foreign trade policy in general and for negotiations with third countries to enter into various contracts and issues related to the inspection of strategic goods.
  • The Ministry of Finance is involved with customs and taxation issues.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture is involved in agricultural products trading policies and related sanitary and phytosanitary measures.


The foreign trade areas administrated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications are the following:

Trade defence 

Anti dumping and countervailing measures are supposed to protect EU producers against unfair competition. 
Further information »

Trade in services 

After Estonia joined the World Trade Organisation, certain duties for a member state, with respect to services, were given to Estonia. 
Further information »

Textile trade

EU legislation and agreements govern the trade of apparel and textile products between third countries and Estonia. 
Further information »


Timber exported to the EU from Russia 

Within the EU quota system, a reduced export customs duty of 15% and 13%, respectively, is imposed on pine logs and spruce logs, exported to the EU, instead of the regular rate of 25%. 
Further information »


Organisation of foreign trade within the European Union 


Member states will give the European Commission a mandate for holding foreign trade negotiations via the Council of the European Union

For the implementation of common foreign trade policy, the European Commission will make proposals to the Council of the European Union. The Trade Policy Committee of the Council will then discuss foreign trade issues and agree upon joint positions

The Trade Policy Committee of the Council of the European Union discusses foreign trade relations that are categorised as follows, according to the governing agreements:

  • Multilateral (WTO)
  • Regional (Mercosuri and ASEAN, etc. regions)
  • Bilaterial (Russia and Ukraine, etc)

Sector-based expert committees are established at the Trade Policy Committee in accordance with the issues that are highly important for the European Union:

  • Steel, textile and other industrial sectors (STIS)
  • Services and investments
  • Conformity attestation
  • Motor vehicles

A working group dealing with the European Union’s trade-related legislative issues also works at the Council of the European Union.

Expert groups of the European Commission will also discuss the protective measures applied with respect to European Union trade and market access issues.


Last updated: 30 May 2019