Although well underway, “the 21st Century Finland” is still exciting. This is a time of astonishingly rapid change and a world of new and different challenges. With immediate consequences, the actions by pro-Russia separatists in the Ukraine and Russia’s subsequent actions have chilled Russia-focused commerce. Business continues, albeit with increased caution.
Influenced by intricate geopolitical, geophysical and economic connections, the “New North” continues to benefit from climate change through a unique combination of sea, air and rail transport oriented towards growing prosperity in the East. Finland, with its evolving and buzzing entrepreneurship scene presents a set of unrivalled new business opportunities. In many ways, Finland is the epicentre of this “New North” – a unique intersection of geography, infrastructure, education, good governance, and business environment.
Finland, an EU member since 1995, has redefined itself from a quiet agricultural based economy to a trend setting, global center for technology. Its commercial clout is far in excess of its modest population of 5.4 million. Finland routinely ranks at the very top in international surveys of research and development funding, competitiveness, transparency, literacy, and education.
Helsinki, a pocket-sized green maritime metropolis, is a mere 3.5 hours from St. Petersburg via high speed train. In Finland, nature reigns supreme and it is no surprise that Helsinki was the site of the first LEED-certified building in the Nordics. Finland, along with all its Nordic neighbors, have a focused interest in high-performance buildings that are energy and resource efficient driven by intelligent building products, services and technologies.
Contrary to popular misconception, Finland is not a part of Scandinavia. It shares with Russia a 900-mile long border, the longest contiguous land border in the EU. Slightly less than 40 percent of the EU’s overland transshipments into Russia go through Finland underscoring Finland’s role as a regional business hub complemented by its logistical capabilities. Russia is Finland’s largest trading partner and a variety of Finnish companies are successful in Russia, a challenging marketplace. We believe that there are opportunities for certain U.S. companies to exploit this existing business by providing U.S. goods via the Finnish corridor. Finland is capitalizing upon its unique position as the center of a rapidly developing marketplace formed by northwestern Russia, the Scandinavian countries, and the Baltic States, creating a marketplace with more than 80 million prospective consumers.
Two-way trade between the U.S. and Finland was about $7 billion in 2013, chiefly in the electronics, paper, medical equipment, and telecommunications industries. The U.S. remains an important trading partner for Finland outside of Europe. Finnish imports of U.S. goods and services in 2013 were valued at around $2.4 billion. The U.S. was Finland’s fourth largest customer after Sweden, Germany, and Russia, with Finnish exports of goods and services to the United States valued at about $4.7 billion.
Finland is the only Nordic country to replace its national currency, the Finnish mark, with the euro. Finland has a largely homogeneous population. There are about 6,500 American residents in Finland and 179,000 visited the country in 2013. The immigration rate from the U.S. to Finland has been steadily increasing and since 2005, has been consistent between 300 to 350 people every year. The GDP per capita estimate was $48,361 in 2013.