That dollar amount results from a 25.5% upturn from $17.9 billion during 2018.
From 2021 to 2022, the overall value of goods exported from Estonia flatlined as shown by a modest 0.5% year-over-year gain.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, Estonia uses the euro which depreciated by -12.1% against the US dollar since 2018 and weakened by -12.3% from 2021 to 2022. The weaker European Union currency in 2022 made Estonia’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Where Estonia’s Top Trading Partners Are Located
The latest available country-specific data shows that almost three-quarters (74.7%) of products exported from Estonia were bought by importers in: Finland (14.5% of the Estonian total), Latvia (14%), Sweden (9.2%), Lithuania (6.1%), Germany (5.8%), United States of America (5.5%), Netherlands (4.2%), Russia (3.6%), Norway (3.5%), Denmark (3%), Poland (also 3%) and the United Kingdom (2.3%).
From a continental perspective, 83.5% of Estonia’s exports by value was delivered to fellow European countries while 6.7% was sold to Asian importers. Estonia shipped another 6.3% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.9%), Latin America (1.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Estonia’s population of 1.332 million people, its total $22.4 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $16,800 for every resident in the northern European country. That per-capita dollar amount exceeds the average $16,200 in 2021.
Estonia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Estonian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Estonia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.2 billion (18.6% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $2.9 billion (12.9%)
- Wood: $2.5 billion (11.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.8 billion (7.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $1.4 billion (6.3%)
- Vehicles: $1.3 billion (5.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $870.2 million (3.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $570.7 million (2.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $549.9 million (2.5%)
- Iron, steel: $499.1 million (2.2%)
Estonia’s top 10 exports accounted for nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 11.7% since 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was articles made from iron or steel which rose by 6.2%.
Estonia’s shipments of optical, technical and medical apparatus posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 5.1% year over year.
The leading decliner among Estonia’s top 10 export product categories was electrical machinery and equipment falling -15.3%.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Estonia’s most valuable exports are electrical energy (5.9% of the Estonian total), phone devices including smartphones (5.6%), refined petroleum oils (5%), high-temperature distilled coal tar oils (also 5%), cars (2.8%), prefabricated buildings (also 2.8%), wood carpentry and joinery (2.4%), sawn wood (1.9%), fuel wood, wood chips and sawdust (1.8%), then petroleum gases (1.7%).
Products Generating Estonia’s Greatest Trade Surpluses
The following types of Estonian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Wood: US$1.4 billion (Up by 14.4% since 2021)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $1 billion (Down by -7%)
- Cereals: $270.2 million (Up by 50.4%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $189.6 million (Up by 21%)
- Woodpulp: $133.9 million (Up by 16.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $118.8 million (Down by -19.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $96.9 million (Up by 38.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $93.8 million (Down by -85.3%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: $82 million (Up by 12%)
- Tanning, dyes, paints, varnishes, ink: $66.8 million (Down by -14.1%)
Estonia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of lumber. In turn, these cashflows indicate Estonia’s strong competitive advantages under the wood product category.
Products Causing Estonia’s Biggest Trade Deficits
Estonia incurred an overall -$3.8 billion trade deficit during 2022, expanding by 104.4% from -$1.87 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Estonia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Estonia’s goods trail Estonian importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$1 billion (Up by 7.1% since 2021)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$844.7 million (Up by 1046.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$728.7 million (Up by 5.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$630.6 million (Down by -3.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$505.1 million (Up by 38%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$487.1 million (Down by -0.3%)
- Ships, boats: -$194.1 million (Reversing a $64.5 million surplus)
- Fertilizers: -$167.6 million (Up by 86.8%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$147.3 million (Down by -2.3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$142 million (Up by 10%)
Estonia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for cars and, to a lesser extent, trucks, tractors, public transportation vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Estonia’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles market, but also represent key opportunities for Estonia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Estonian Export Companies
Given that Estonia is an emerging economy, it should come as no surprise that not one Estonian corporation appears on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia does outline some Estonian exports-related companies. Selected examples are shown below.
- Estonia Piano Factory (pianos)
- Liviko (vodka, other alcoholic beverages)
- Narva Oil Plant (shale oil)
- Rakvere Lihakombinaat (meat products)
- Rexer Ltd (automobiles)
- Saku Brewery (beer, cider, soft drinks, water)
- Tartu Mill AS (grains)
- Tondi Elektroonika (hearing aids)
In macroeconomic terms, Estonia’s total exported goods represent 37.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($60.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 37.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 38.6% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Estonia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeline.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Estonia’s unemployment rate averaged 5.571% in 2022, down from 6.177% one year earlier in 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Estonia’s capital city is Tallinn.
See also Finland’s Top 10 Exports, United States Top 10 Exports, America’s Top Trading Partners, Top United States Trade Balances and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on April 21, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 21, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 21, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 21, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 21, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 21, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 21, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Estonia. Accessed on April 21, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 21, 2023