Estonian Chamber of Commerce – Opening Remarks by Ambassador James D. Melville, Jr.

April 18, 2017

Thank you, Piret.  It’s a pleasure to join you today and see so many Estonian businesses interested in doing business with the United States.

With an annual GDP of 18 trillion dollars and a population of over 325 million, the United States is one of the world’s most dynamic economy and a leader in innovation and productivity.  The United States offers the ideas, resources, and market for companies of all sizes to succeed and grow.

The trade and investment relationship between the EU and the United States has been a driver of growth and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.  The transatlantic economy generates 5.5 trillion dollars in total commercial sales per year and employs somewhere on the order of 15 million workers.

These numbers are driven not only by large companies, but by many small and medium sized enterprises doing business in the transatlantic space.  And Estonian companies are finding their niche in this market.  Examples include:

  • Erply, providing retail sales software to U.S. companies.
  • Starship Technologies, which is now testing its delivery robots in several U.S. cities.
  • Transferwise, the peer to peer money transfer company, has opened offices in New York and Florida to grow its business.
  • And you’ll hear from three more Estonian companies, Estonia Piano, Silver Coins and Defendec – who are active in the U.S. market during the next panel discussion.

Many of these companies are opening U.S. offices and hiring American workers to expand their business in the U.S. market.  At the same time, their Estonian-based teams are also increasing as their companies grow.  We see this as a win-win scenario: expanding job growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

If you haven’t already, I also encourage you to take a look at Ambassador Eerik Marmei’s op-ed in Äripäev today. Eerik is my counterpart in Washington and works with Estonian companies on a day-to-day basis. I understand that questions, such as surrounding the future of the transatlantic free trade agreement or the new administration’s economic agenda, do create a sense of uncertainty and hesitation for some businesses.  Our new Administration in Washington is assembling its economic leadership team and reviewing the status of negotiations, but the strength and potential of the U.S. market is much greater and something frankly that all of you should be exploring.

There is much we can do together to promote job creation and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.  As Ambassador Marmei wrote, Estonia is no longer seen as some far-off and unknown country. You have developed a strong reputation and Estonian ideas and innovation partnered with American resources and know-how is a very a powerful combination.

I hope today’s workshop is giving you some of the tools and contacts to think about expanding your commercial and financial engagement in the United States and in its markets.

The Embassy team is always available if you need information or help connecting to the right resources.  I want to point out two contacts for you that are here today.  First, Reene Sepp is our Commercial Assistant.

And second, I’d like to introduce Rick de Lambert, our Senior Commercial Officer in Helsinki who also covers Estonia.  I’ll ask Rick to say a few words about the upcoming SelectUSA Summit in Washington.  For companies with an interest in expanding into the U.S. market, this is the place to be.  Over to you, Rick.