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Home BUSINESSFinland aiming to build on eastern gateway potential
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Thu, 30 Jan, 2014 12:00:27 AM
FTimes- Xinhua Report by Denise Wall, January 30
File Photo Lehtikuva.
Finland's location at the outermost reaches of Western Europe offers an ideal launchpad for capitalizing on business and other development opportunities further east.
In fact, Finland's trade figures show increasing congress with non-European partners. Data from Finnish Customs show that Russia was Finland's main trading partner in 2012, importing more than 10 billion euros (13.66 billion U.S. dollars) in goods and exporting slightly less than 6 billion.
The small Nordic nation's other major trading partner in the east is China, from whom Finns imported just over 4 billion in 2012 and exported roughly half that amount, with imports up by nearly eight percent on the previous year, and exports climbing about five percent over the same period .
Jukka Seppala, Vice President of the Finland-China Trade Association, believes that given Finland's relatively small size, it is very well represented in the considerably larger Chinese market.
File Photo Lehtikuva.
"We have an offering that fits well with the Chinese market. Industrial and technological offerings are used in China on a very broad scale," Seppala noted.
"Any of Finland's major companies that you can think of are present in China, and it has been so for a long time. We have had a long-standing tradition of trade agreements with the Chinese," he added.
Seppala is also Vice President of the global engineering and technology company Metso, which stands side by side with other veterans in the Chinese market such as the lifting solutions firm Konecranes, forestry products enterprise UPM, and minerals and metals processing company Outotec.
Newcomers to the more than 300 Finnish companies doing business in China include the iconic Finnish design company Marimekko, which made a major splash with its brightly colored designs during the launch of its first outlet in China's Hong Kong in 2012, followed closely by new openings in Beijing and Shanghai in 2013.
Seppala noted, however, that the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries has been somewhat one-sided, pointing out that Chinese companies setting up shop in the small Nordic nation is a relatively new phenomenon.
"This has happened mainly in the last two years or so. We are seeing new investments being made due to the strong IT base in Finland," he explained.
Just across the border, the trade connection is dominated by Finnish companies doing business in Russia.
Team Finland, a moniker for the government's made-over export promotion drive has launched new initiatives to woo more Russian businesses.
Marja Tiri heads up the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce. She said that the latest efforts have resulted in a mere few contacts from companies.
"It is difficult to quantify. There are no benchmarks to estimate success," she added.
According to Statistics Finland, Russian owners held fewer than 40 of the approximately 3,000 foreign-owned subsidiaries operating in Finland in 2012 and employed under 800 workers.
Finnish companies on the other hand, had more than 400 subsidiaries in Russia and listed over 50,000 workers on the payroll - providing a tough challenge for Finnish officials looking to reverse the trend and attract more Russian business into Finland.
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