Press Release 125/2013
In autumn 2012, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs collaborated with the rest of the Team Finland network to survey the challenges encountered by Finnish companies in their internationalisation and trade efforts. The results of the survey were published at Finlandia Hall on Tuesday 28 May. The survey on obstacles to internationalisation and trade now presented is the first of its kind. Earlier, the experiences of Finnish companies have been surveyed only as regards obstacles to trade, the previous time in 2009.
Some 600 companies from various parts of Finland, covering major part of Finnish foreign trade in terms of both net sales and sectors, responded the survey. More than 90 per cent of the respondents were SMEs, small and micro businesses in particular.
As for internationalisation, the companies seem to be most interested in the export markets that are already important, such as Russia, Sweden, China, the US, Germany and Norway. Japan, India and Ukraine were also mentioned.
The survey showed that companies still consider internationalisation services provided by public authorities important. They considered, for instance, the minister-led export promotion visits useful.
“The survey provides very much information to lean on for the work performed by the Team Finland network,” noted Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb, who spoke at the launch of the report, referring to, for example, the Team Finland visits for export promotion. However, Stubb also encouraged companies to look at the markets that did not come up in this study. “A good example of this is the African continent in its entirety.”
The survey indicated that the number of obstacles to trade has increased in recent years. The companies reported a total of over 1,400 obstacles to trade and investments, most of which were related to import and export trade of goods. However, the number of problems concerning provision of services has increased, which, for its part, tells about the increasing importance of the service sector in the operations of Finnish businesses.
Most of the obstacles to trade and investments encountered by Finnish companies – approximately 30 per cent – are related to Russian trade. The large number is partly explained by the fact that Russia is Finland’s biggest foreign trading partner. The second biggest number of problems was encountered in the EU area, where the obstacles are often related to public procurement.
Signe Ratso, Director of Trade Strategy and Analysis and Market Access, DG Trade, European Commission, pointed out that the cooperation between Finland and the EU is important in removal of obstacles to trade. Together, we have already been able to eliminate several major problems. The EU also offers companies databases supporting trade operations, such as the Market Access Database concerning third country markets.
A panel discussion considered what purposes an operation model like the Team Finland approach serves. Ilkka Räsänen, Director of Public Affairs at Neste Oil Corporation, encouraged Team Finland to advocate its affairs actively in the EU – both in its trade policy and in the internal market. Leena Mörttinen, Director of Competitiveness and Growth division at Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), pointed out that Team Finland actors need to consider matters more closely from the point of view of their customers and break barriers in the direction of business world. Tuomas Lokki, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, at Planmeca Oy, reminded the listeners that official actors cannot do it all; companies must also be aware of what they want themselves.
The survey on obstacles to internationalisation and trade was conducted within Team Finland collaboration between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Finpro, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, the Central Chamber of Commerce, the International Chamber Of Commerce (ICC), the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, and the Finnish Commerce Federation.
For additional information on the survey on obstacles to internationalisation and trade and the launch of the report, please contact: Heli Siikaluoma, Commercial Counsellor, tel. +358 295 351 133, firstname.lastname@example.org