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Fri, 14 Mar, 2014 05:18:29 AM
Arctic Business Forum wraps up in Rovaniemi
FTimes Report by Shahidul Islam, March 14
President and CEO of the Lapland Chamber of Commerce Timo Rautajoki . Photo Hayden Bishop
The fifth Arctic Business Forum concluded in Rovaniemi on Thursday with a renewed commitment for cooperation among the Arctic nations for business mobilization in the European High North.
Speakers at the three-day forum called for concerted measures from the authorities concerned to straighten out the barriers to optimum utilisation of the business and investment potentials of the Arctic region.
The annual event hosted by the Lapland Chamber of Commerce focused on the challenges to and possibilities of expanding trade and investment, particularly in the mining and tourism sectors. 
Earlier, on Wednesday, speakers at the forum termed the double-dip global recession and the worsening Crimea crisis key obstacles to investment in the Arctic region. They emphasised responsible development of infrastructure and resources, a safe communications system, and a business-friendly atmosphere for boosting investment and business in the burgeoning economic zone.
The speakers, including business leaders, high government officials, academicians, and other professionals from 10 countries, expressed interest in continuing with the move to achieve the goal through extending long-term cooperation.   
New ideas, effective development planning and new ways of implementation are the major outcomes of the forum, said Hannu Halinen, Arctic Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland.
He stressed joint commitment, long-term cooperation and ample resource allocations by the Arctic nations for perking up the already booming tourism in the region.
Hannu Halinen, Arctic Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland.Hayden Bishop
The number of registered international tourists in Lapland went over one million in 2013 for the first time in history, said Rauno Posio, Chairman of the Board, Lapland Safaris Group, Finland. He expressed the hope that, given the trend, Lapland would be one of the world’s leading sustainable tourism destinations by 2020. 
The importance of ship and cruise services are increasing by the day for easy accessibility of the northern Scandinavia, said Fred Persen from Northcape Turnaround Port AS of Norway. He said the services would be doubled in Norway over the next 10 years as one million new tourists were expected in North Cape alone. 
Halldor Johansson, General Manager of Arctic Portal, Iceland said the Arctic was undergoing a sea change due to new opportunities as well as political challenges and emphasised having up-to-date information about the changes.
Anton Löf, Senior Iron Ore Analyst, Raw Materials Group, Sweden discussed the commercial viability and sustainability of mining in the European High North. He stressed more exploration to meet the growing demand for metal for economic development.
Vesa Nykänen, Research Professor of Geological Survey of Finland also named the minerals sector an opportunity for Finland due to the escalating global demand for metals and the availability of geological data and services, high-level mining engineering skills, a favourable and secure investment environment, excellent infrastructure, and good international connections.
The Arctic Business Forum in Korundi auditorium. Photo Hayden Bishop.
Professor Vladimir A Masloboev of Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences underscored good governance for ensuring a transparent and well-functioning administrative process and a forward-looking policy for mining. He also emphasised green mining for environmental and ecological protection.
Pentti Mäkinen, SME Director of Federation of Finnish Industries suggested initiating immediate talks on industrial competitiveness to increase the flexibility of the labour market.
Timo Koivurova, Research Professor of the University of Lapland and the Director of the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law of Arctic Centre termed environmental impact assessment ideal for the Arctic region. 
Sweden as well as other Nordic countries has a cautious approach towards the new Arctic possibilities, even though industrial investment in the northern part is higher than the national average, pointed out Elina Rantanen, Project Manager of Business Sweden.
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