September 20, 2018

Finland punches above its weight in Russia

Jaana Rekolainen

CEO of the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce

St. Petersburg and its surrounding regions are an attractive location for Finnish companies that is close to home, and one cannot help but notice the presence of Finnish companies when walking through the city streets. Familiar companies and brands can be seen on billboards, TV commercials and on store shelves. The city is a gateway that has helped Finnish businesses find their way to Moscow and Russia’s other major metropolitan areas. Sometimes it may even feel like there is no area remote enough not to have a factory without a single machine or device that has been made in Finland. Often, these machines are also displayed to visitors with great pride, as they represent finskoe kachestvo, or Finnish quality.

Finnish exports to Russia grew by 15 per cent last year, after several years of negative growth. The figure for the first half of this year was at the same level as last year’s. Russia is still Finland’s third most important trading partner and sixth most important market for exports.

Finland is also an attractive tourism destination for Russians. People come to Finland to enjoy its clean natural environments, outdoor activities, shopping opportunities and, increasingly, many festival and concerts. A smooth border process and visa application system have helped secure the basic prerequisites for travel. Finland is of great interest to those who live near the border, and the new highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg will make Finland an even more enticing travel destination for tourist groups from Moscow. We want to rise up to the challenge of attracting the attention of these new tourists and welcome them to Finland.

On a per-capita basis, Finland is the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Around 900 Finnish companies have operations in Russia. On a per-capita basis, Finland is the largest foreign investor in Russia. Tenacity, practicality and level-headedness are some of the qualities that have helped Finns succeed in Russia’s turbulent markets, as Finns rarely give up without a fight. Finnish businesses have also learnt that when they go to Russia, they should focus on the things they do best. Russia is a demanding marketplace, and to succeed one must offer only their best expertise. Finnish businesses can rely on their quality and ability to deliver to help them stand out from the crowd.

Finnish expertise is well-suited for the goals that Russia has set for itself for the next six years. Increasing labour productivity, improving living conditions, and developing education and healthcare are all goals that Finland can contribute to with its best experts and businesses. Finnish expertise in the circular economy and forestry have also been noted in the highest echelons of Russia, and Finland is even seen as a model country in these fields.

What Russia needs, Finland can supply. Finnish businesses are ready to punch above their weight in this equation.

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