TALLINN - Estonia's economic output grew 3.2% last year on robust domestic demand, making it one of the fastest growing economies in Europe in 2012, national agency Statistics Estonia said Monday.
The economic activity was sturdier than the 2.9% December growth forecast by the country's central bank, and stands in stark contrast to the 0.4% economic contraction predicted by the European Commission in November for the whole of the euro zone.
Estonia became the euro zone's latest member in 2011. The same year, its gross domestic product grew 8.3%. The Estonian central bank in December said it expects GDP growth of 3.0% this year. The euro zone meanwhile is expected to return to modest growth of 0.1% in 2013, according to the European Commission's latest forecast.
Estonia's economy is expected to hold up fairly well in 2013, driven by domestic consumption and exports. However, slowing growth in key export markets like Sweden and Finland is likely to keep output relatively modest.
In 2012, 16% of Estonia's total exports went to Sweden, 15% to Finland and 12% to Russia, according to Statistics Estonia. Exports of goods increased by 4% and imports by 9% in 2012, compared with 2011. In 2012, annual growth of exports and imports was slower than in the previous year when both exports and imports grew by 37%. In the fourth quarter, seasonally and working-day adjusted GDP increased by 0.9% compared with the third quarter and by 3.4% compared with a year earlier.