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Growing links with Singapore

INVESTMENT and cooperation links between Estonia and Singapore have been growing steadily and have been marked by good two-way flows.

Much of this has been driven by Enterprise Estonia (EAS), an organisation set up in 2000 to promote business and regional policy in Estonia, and one of the largest institutions within the national support system for entrepreneurship.

Enterprise Estonia set up its 15th international office in Singapore in 2016 to boost its presence in high-growth Asian markets. The organisation provides financial assistance, counselling, cooperation opportunities and training for entrepreneurs, research institutions, public and non-profit sectors.

There have been significant business links from both sides, Enterprise Estonia Singapore chief representative officer Indrek Pallo said. Estonia's unique and innovative products and services have found interest in the region. These include Bolefloor wooden floors, Tahe Outdoor kayaks and canoes, Saku Brewery beverages, Chaga Health organic products and numerous IT solutions.

Estonian startups have also been active in the region and have been embraced by local investors looking for successful startups to fund. Among these are money transfer company geared towards the Southeast Asian market TransferFriend, educational platform eKool and blockchain technology-based investment platform Funderbeam.

Meanwhile, Singapore companies have also ventured into Estonia. Examples include Tolaram Group unit Horizon Pulp and Paper, which it acquired in 1995. The group also has interests in the FMCG segment, real estate and textiles in Estonia.

Singapore-based container line APL opened its Estonia office in Tallinn in 2006, making use of its geographical location, language-skilled people and open business environment to provide support to APL's local offices in Europe.

Almost exactly two years ago at the previous edition of the Singapore Airshow, Estonian defence company Milrem and Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics) signed a cooperation agreement for further development of unmanned tracked vehicle applications.

The agreement involved the integration of ST Kinetics' remote weapon station ADDER into Milrem's unmanned tracked vehicle THeMIS. Due to conduct first trials in the third quarter of that year, the tie-up was ahead of schedule and was able to showcase a live demonstration of its THeMIS:ADDER weaponised unmanned ground vehicle at the Eurosatory defence exhibition in Paris in June.

Singapore in turn is also planning to implement a digital identity programme similar to Estonia, where citizens can have easier access to government services, financial transactions, and other services.

The aim of the programme is to revamp its current national ID system to implement digital solutions and boost usage in areas such as electronic payment similar to Estonia's electronic ID card.

For example, Estonia's ID card can be used as a national health insurance card, proof of identification when logging into bank accounts at home and for digital signatures.