Competing with yourself
We all want to provide the world with intelligent and creative goods and services that people love. Large and small countries alike pursue international success stories to speak for themselves. Just to name a few trademarks: Estonia is known for Skype, online public services like online voting or online annual tax returns, e-residency, or for premium quality-estonian concert pianos. One could easily extend this list with well-known trademarks like Laima of Latvia or Žalgiris, Kaunas of Lithuania. All three Baltic States will have their centenary celebrations in 2018.
The billion dollar question is how to reach the innovation frontier and stay there, riding on a sequence of international success stories?
We live in a dynamic world where competitiveness edges emerge and disappear. We need to know where our strengths lie and how to improve them further. In some sense, it is a bit like competing with yourself. The competitiveness remains an elusive concept and the codebook of excelling competitiveness is nonexistent. Our steady endeavor to build the ecosystem, in which success stories are composed, is needed. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Estonia has chosen to adopt new technologies in the provision of public services. Our message is that this pays off and we are happy to share our experiences with the world.
Technology alone does not deliver. But instead, the most valuable asset is our people. What is good for people is also good for competitiveness. We need to embed in our culture the value of teaching and learning to enhance human capital. Following the PISA test results, Estonia’s basic education is the best in Europe, and belongs to the worldwide top. Being a small country, we must additionally be able to attract competencies from the global market.
Small countries need to mutually enhance their competitiveness in the global supply chains. Our performance improves after building on the complementarities that we have with our partners. One thing we know for sure is that our policies need to be geared towards openness and flexibility. This is where our strengths lie.
I would like to address one concern as well. It is difficult to overestimate the benefits that openness has provided to Estonia. Be it from free trade, labor or capital mobility, the EU or NATO memberships.
It is not only about Estonia, but people from across the world have benefitted tremendously from the reduction of various barriers. I am concerned of the risk that the world may start drifting towards protectionism, reversing the hard-won gains. I consider it my duty to fight against this sentiment.
Estonia has been and will remain a committed ally to the global leaders who pursue an open, inclusive, and barrier-free world. We all need to look for the incentives that maintain the globalization momentum.
Estonia has been and will remain a committed ally to the global leaders who pursue an open, inclusive, and barrier-free world. We all need to look for the incentives that maintain the globalization momentum.”
Juri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia