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Conference to debate lengthening odds on Estonia's economic future

Aug 22, 2007
By Joel Alas

TALLINN - It seems each month brings news of factory closure or company relocation as the Estonian economy changes gears. At the same time, statistics have begun to indicate a slowdown in the real estate market. The worrying indicators will be the topic of discussion at a business seminar hosted by the British- Estonian Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 24. The conference will bring together government ministers, bankers and business operators to discuss the topic "Is Estonia still a good bet."

One of the conferences key speakers is Ardi Roosimaa, managing director of Colliers International in Estonia. "We need this event because quite a lot of people are thinking that the good times are over in Estonia," Roosimaa said. "In my opinion, this is definitely not the case. We have gone through huge development in recent years, and the market is stabilizing. "It's certainly not an easy bet anymore. If you are just a regular speculative investor who doesn't add much to the market and expect high returns, then that's obviously not the situation anymore."

Roosimaa said recent factory closures and company relocations were to be expected as the economy matured. "That might be the case of companies trying to find cheaper labor. We are not a country of call centers anymore. We are developing a normal European-level economy. Relocations are also the result of global changes, not necessarily related to Estonia." Roosimaa will address the seminar on his field of expertise, commercial real estate. Despite gloomy reports of a real estate slowdown Roosimaa said there was still an unmet demand for good quality office, retail, and industrial space in Tallinn. "As some of the developers get cautious about the market and postpone projects, that only increases the demand. If you look at office space, the vacancy rate for A-class office space in Tallinn is zero, and B-class is about 5 percent. This is non-existent in normal markets, where the vacancy rate is normally 10 to 15 percent. Look at these figures and you start to get a picture about take-up and demand."

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. at the Euroopa Hotel at the Tallinn port. For information, visit www.becc.ee.
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