Tough export tax regulations imposed in Estonia at the beginning of the year are causing fish processors to lose EKr10m per day.

Companies are having to make employees redundant as "there is no point in producing goods for warehouses," says Fisheries Association managing director Valdur Noormets. Maseko is likely to stop production at its Narva operation, affecting 500 employees, while Haapsalu-based Hako (250 employees) and Tallinn-based Makrill (80 employees) are also looking vulnerable.

As Noormetz pointed out, the estimated daily loss of Ekr10m could be far higher if allied industries are taken into account.

Some companies are exporting their products via Latvia to circumvent the higher Estonian taxes, but this hikes shipping costs. Moreover, Latvia is apparently planning to close off that channel by raising taxes.

Noormets questioned the Finance Ministry's motive for imposing the higher tax, which was theoretically to combat tax fraud. However, officials at the ministry have been unable to name any concrete case of fraud making use of the earlier rules, Noormetz stated.