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Prices paid - I was recently in Malmö, speaking at a seminar on Estonia arranged by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden, the Estonian Embassy in Stockholm and Enterprise Estonia, continues the Estonian Central Bank's Chairman Jaan Männik in the focus interview. My main message was that it has been hard times for Estonia the recent years and the country has taken many difficult decisions to counter the impacts of the economical downturn. Estonia has managed to handle the situation and our extremely small foreign debt, less than 3% of the GDP, is an invaluable asset.

- Estonia has learned its lesson and has understood the consequences of an overheated economy and also drawn the proper conclusions. Prices paid on a national level right now are increased unemployment and a drastically decreased domestic demand.

Estonia's registered unemployment rate was reported at a 14.5% level in February, slightly down from the 15.5% level during the fourth quarter 2009. Having taken a look at the Estonian CV-Online recruitment portal, Baltic News Service reports that job offers have now increased to more than 1.000 during the last weeks of February compared to an average of 700 job offers being available on the portal last year. Estonia's Ministry of Finance says it expects unemployment to reach a maximum of 14.8% this year.

Estonian new car registrations fell 25% in January 2010 compared to one year ago as consumption is hit by unemployment and falling wages, reported the news agency Bloomberg in February.

Christer Östholm, Rimi Eesti Food's Country Managing Director, comments the decreased Estonian domestic demand in an interview for the first 2010 issue of the focus magazine:

- Nowadays we can see a clearly changed consumer behavior in Estonia. People are adapting to lower income levels by spending more time on price shopping and they obviously also spend more time at home cooking their meals based on basic ingredients, says Christer Östholm.

- The market is down and it's back to basics in our trade as the margins are small and we have to cover lowered costs by maximizing sales volumes, continues Christer Östholm in the focus interview. Our total Estonian Säästumarket and Rimi market share is 22%, putting us on top of the list ahead of competing chains.

- Estonia is a small country and that gives us possibilities to be flexible and have a readiness for quick adjustments to changes in the economical environment, says Jaan Männik in the focus interview. Foreign investments in Estonia will grow. Investors are focusing on the future and Estonia's hard work and optimism for the future has been duly noted in the international investment community.