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NEWS - 8. December 2018 14:20

SEB: Optimistic Tartu County SME’s are at the forefront with their export ambitions

SEB Baltic Business Outlook (BBO) survey showed that while 13 percent of Estonian small- and medium-sized companies (SME’s) are expecting more than 15 percent turnover growth for 2019, companies in Tartu County are more optimistic and 16 percent of their companies forecast turnover growth to go beyond 15% this year. Tartu County SME’s also have a definite goal to gain a foothold in the export market.

SEB BBO survey asked companies to assess factors, which most affect their turnover growth this year. Survey showed that a high tax burden, burdensome legislation and excess bureaucracy cause a drag on turnover growth the most. Contrary to the widespread understanding about labour shortage, the research showed this to be fifth on the list for SME’s concerns; developing services and products and insufficient skills of employees came ninth.

“In terms of export, Tartu County SME’s ambitions are well above the Estonian average. While according to the SEB survey only every tenth Estonian company plans to enter new markets or to expand their operations into established export markets, in Tartu County, as much as a quarter of SME’s plan to do this. Tartu County SME’s plans regarding investments have also not changed according to the survey, and investments larger than 50 thousand euros are planned by 12% of the companies, which is still above the Estonian average (11%). The most eager investors are in the agricultural industry,” said the Head of the Retail Banking Area in SEB, Ainar Leppänen.

Compared to 24 percent last year, nearly 20% of Tartu County SME’s plan to increase their number of employees this year. Most of the companies engaged in the search for new employees are in the construction, agriculture, transport and logistic sectors.

In 2018, economic growth in the Baltic states was among the fastest in Europe and the growth of wages and domestic demand has significantly increased the sense of security for Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian SMEs for the current financial year.

The biggest optimists in the Baltics are Estonian SMEs, 92% of whom are expecting turnover growth, which is the highest number in five years. The relevant proportion in Latvia is 89% and 87% in Lithuania, so SMEs afraid of a decline in turnover have decreased to 10%, depending on the country.


This is the seventh consecutive year that SEB Group has organised the Baltic Business Outlook Survey, mapping the expectations of Baltic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the current financial year. Nearly 4500 SMEs responded to the Baltic survey, which was conducted last December. In Tartu County, 244 enterprises completed the survey.

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