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Estonia’s first-quarter GDP growth up 4.4 per cent on year

According to a Wednesday morning press release by Statistics Estonia, Estonia's GDP increased 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of last year.

In the first quarter of 2017, the GDP at current prices was €5.2 billion. The seasonally and working-day adjusted GDP grew by 0.8 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2016 and 4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.

First-quarter GDP growth was driven mostly by manufacturing, with the main contributors to the growth of manufacturing being the increased manufacture of fabricated metal products, motor vehicles and food products and beverages. Trade and construction activities also contributed significantly to economic growth; first-quarter growth in trade was encouraged by wholesale trade.

While net taxes on products increased at current prices, GDP growth was slowed down by net taxes on products at real prices. VAT receipts increased, however excise tax receipts declined compared to the same period last year.

The GDP increased faster than the number of persons employed, while the growth rate remained below the change in the number of hours worked. The number of persons employed increased by 2.2 percent, while the number of hours worked was up 4.4 percent, with productivity calculated on the basis of seasonally and working-day adjusted figures. Thus labor productivity per employee increased 1.8 percent but decreased 0.4 percent per hour worked.

In the first quarter of 2017, unit labor costs increased 2.7 percent compared to the same quarter of last year, indicating that compensation per employee has grown faster than productivity.

The real exports of goods and services increased for the fifth quarter in a row, affected the most by an increase in the exports of transport equipment, mineral products — including petrol, diesel, fuel oils, gas — and products of wood.

Imports of goods and services increased, due mainly to the growth in the imports of transport equipment and basic metals. Exports of goods and services continued to be higher than imports. Net export, i.e. the difference between export and import, was positive in the first quarter of 2017, amounting to 2.3 percent of the GDP.

Estonia’s economy was positively influenced by domestic demand, which increased 3.6 percent at real prices, mainly due to a surge in investments. Final consumption expenditures likewise grew.

The gross fixed capital formation increased 16.5 percent at real prices, primarily due to increased investments in transport equipment and machinery and equipment by non-financial enterprises. Investments in buildings and structures by the government and the non-financial enterprises sectors likewise increased substantially.

The growth in household final consumption expenditures slowed down. In the first quarter of 2017, the household final consumption expenditures grew 0.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Although domestic demand grew slower than the GDP, the final consumption expenditures and gross capital formation together were larger than the GDP.

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