‘Make in India’ is a Great Initiative to Onboard Estonian Companies: Marje Luup, Ambassador of Estonia to India

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Ambassador of Estonia
What opportunities do you see for collaboration between Estonian timber businesses and Indian counterparts during this trip, and how do you envision strengthening bilateral trade relations in the timber sector between our two nations?

Marje Luup:Blessed with pristine nature, Estonia has centuries of expertise in harnessing natural resources efficiently and sustainably. Historical traditions are integrated with the practical application of modern methodologies taught in specialised universities and professional competence centres for horticulture, forestry, environmental science and chemicals.

Wood and wood products are Estonia’s second largest export merchandise, accounting for 1.94 billion euros worth of exports in 2023. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Norway are the principal export destinations.

Estonia’s wood exports contribute 15-18% of total merchandise exports to India, and over the years, this sector has seen consistent growth. Many Estonian companies have traded softwood to India over the years, and carrying forward this legacy, (trade) Estonia’s endeavour is to familiarise the Indian wood fraternity with the availability of high-value products from Estonia, find relevant channel partners in the form of importers and distributors, and explore new avenues of synergies.

Make in India

What aspects of Estonia’s forestry and timber industry could offer mutually beneficial collaboration opportunities for Indian companies, and how might they best explore and engage with potential partners in Estonia during this visit?

Marje Luup: Estonia’s wood industry is strongly export-oriented, as processors focus on new technologies and high-value production. Estonia’s bioeconomy is driven by its world-class expertise in forest-based activities. Estonia has an abundance of high-quality FSC and PEFC-certified raw materials and an entire value chain for export-oriented activities. The wood processing industry comprises a healthy mix of multinational leaders and smaller local producers.

Estonia can strongly contribute to the emerging trends of luxury hospitality and wooden homes category in wooden and prefabricated homes in India via our innovative mindset and Nordic business ethics. We have a wealth of experience and understand different markets’ traditions, regulations and other specifics.

What innovative strategies could Estonia employ to effectively showcase its unique selling points and competitive advantages in the timber sector, potentially attracting Indian importers away from (India’s) traditional sources like Malaysia, Germany and Tanzania and towards Estonian timber products?

Marje Luup: Estonia’s wood products industry manufactures a wide range of products—from lumber, prefabricated wood (panel) modular house products, windows, and doors to a vast assortment of paper and board products. Estonia has a long tradition of manufacturing wood furniture and a newer but growing wood pellet market. In the structure of exports of Estonian wood-based products, products with higher added value predominate. Therefore, quality will take precedence over quantity.

The Estonian timber industry is globally known for boldly accepting and delivering challenging solutions, carefully considering climatic requirements, customer needs, and environmental aspects.

This exercise is also a learning experience for Estonian companies to understand the requirements and prevailing nuances and practices of the Indian business market culture. Our companies are willing to adapt and cater to the market with the requisite size and specifications for the respective products.

Estonian manufacturers produce a diverse range of wooden houses, demonstrating the vast potential of timber to replace concrete and steel as construction materials. Your delegation also travels to Mumbai, a real estate hub, and Alibaug, known for its fancy farmhouses. In a scenario where real estate builders mostly use steel and concrete, what innovative plans does your delegation have to inspire them to turn to timber largely for construction purposes despite its perceived cost-effectiveness?

Marje Luup: As a building material, wood is far better for regulating humidity and temperature than concrete and creates a friendlier environment for humans, especially the little ones. The Estonian wood industry has a long history of building schools and kindergartens from timber products around the world. Quality assurance is of utmost importance when delivering special projects, and our industry can proudly claim to be the most certified building sector in Europe, with the most ETA certificates for timber house manufacturers in absolute numbers. This universal level of certified craftsmanship offers Estonian producers unique possibilities for partnerships and collaboration, allowing them to pool their resources to tackle even very large-scale orders.

Besides, another significant element of Estonian exports is a wide range of wooden houses, such as modular homes, prefab element homes, machined log homes, handcrafted log homes, and garden houses, producing elements and modules for zero-emission houses, and building-integrated solar (“BIPV”) solutions from Estonian companies contributing further to making housing as energy-efficient as possible.

Another highlight we would like to address is Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), as its aesthetic qualities make it an exceptionally beautiful building material. Secondly, if constructed properly, it has excellent strength and dimensional stability. Another benefit of CLT is that it is much lighter than other structural materials, such as steel and concrete.

The Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative presents promising prospects for Estonian companies seeking to expand their manufacturing footprint and capitalise on India’s dynamic and growing economy. Please provide your comments in the context of the timber business.

Marje Luup: Our view is two-fold here! To augment business opportunities and sustain economically, ‘Make in India’ is a great initiative to onboard Estonian companies with relevant channel partners with whom they can share their technical expertise and global know-how.

India’s geographical location, with its vast impetus on exports, makes it a distinctive hot spot for leading supply chain management and opening doors for our companies by catering to the nearby Middle East, South, Southeast and East Asia geographies

 

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