Finland and Russia share a long history in the maritime industry. Increased momentum is currently being sought through new means, such as the joint venture company Arctech Helsinki Shipyard and the St Petersburg project, which aims to create opportunities for Finnish SMEs in the industry.
The structure of the maritime industry has changed significantly in recent years as the volume of orders for cruise ships and car ferries have declined globally. The situation has changed the structure of the industry in Finland, too.
― There have been fewer large-scale deliveries, and smaller cruise ships, gas-fuelled car ferries and specialised vessels such as marine research vessels and supply ships for arctic conditions have become the focal point, says Merja Salmi-Lindgren, Director of Meriteollisuus, the Association of Finnish Marine Industries.
― Finnish shipyards have extremely strong experience in supplying ships to Russia, having delivered more than 1 500 special ships to the country. The deliveries include nearly all of the diesel-powered icebreakers currently in operation in Russia, as well as two Taymyr-class nuclear-powered icebreakers.
A boost from co-operation
Arctic knowledge and making use of Russia’s energy and environmental resources are expected to introduce new opportunities to Finland’s maritime industry. Major maritime industry companies, such as ABB and Wärtsilä, already have operations in Russia, but new business and investment possibilities can be found, for example in the Kronshtadt Shipyard’s new business park in the area of St Petersburg.
New impetus was also sought for the co-operation between Finland and Russia with the establishment in 2010 of the joint venture Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Oy by STX Finland and the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which is owned by the Russian Federation.
― The first order, for two new icebreaking supply vessels, was received by the joint venture company in December 2010 from Sovcomflot. Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, together with Yantar Shipyard JSC, received its second order, valued at approximately EUR 76 million, from the Russian Ministry of Transport. The order was for a multipurpose icebreaking emergency and rescue vessel.
An additional boost is also being sought by the Association of Finnish Marine Industries’ internationalisation project called the St Petersburg Project, which strives in a number of ways to find Russian customers and co-operation partners for Finnish SMEs in the maritime industry. The project is scheduled to be launched in the autumn together with Finpro.
― In the near future, the Russian shipping industry will make major investments to acquire new vessels. By 2030 there will be a need for approximately 350 new vessels, which can at least be considered an indicative figure.
Salmi-Lindgren believes that there are plenty of opportunities.
― Finnish companies have expertise and products to offer on the Russian markets. Now is the time to clarify the demand and supply situation. SMEs must also think about their opportunities and business strategy.
― SMEs already have good possibilities to set up business in the St Petersburg area, as long as they are pro-active. Other European countries are also trying to get their foot in the door. The WTO is also harmonising procedures and easing the bureaucracy at least in terms of customs issues.