Government evening session discussed Finlands action plan on external economic relations
On Wednesday 2 May, the government evening session discussed Finlands action plan on external economic relations which is to promote employment and support the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises. For its part, the entire state leadership is responsible for promoting exports, and the Government and the President of the Republic are working in close cooperation to that end. The action plan is based on recommendations put forward by a working group on Finland's external economic relations. The working group was mandated by Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade.
The plan sets out six measures to promote the objectives:
- a strategic steering group and secretariat working under the Prime Minister should draw up common long-term strategic guidelines to promote exports and internationalisation
- the new 'Team Finland' network approach, enabling better cooperation, should be cemented both nationally and internationally
- the functioning of the service concept and the expertise of service providers should be strengthened to guarantee customer-oriented service provision
- trade policy lobbying should be intensified, the content of exports and internationalisation efforts developed, and the financing of such efforts targeted at SMEs to guarantee Finnish businesses a level playing field with respect to international competitors
- anticipation activities by the Finnish embassies, Finpro and FinNode should be improved and expanded, private and public sector cooperation and cooperation with universities intensified, and the opportunities provided by development policy for Finnish businesses drawn upon
- the promotion of Finland abroad and the related communications network should be further developed, investments to Finland effectively promoted, and the lobbying of Finland's interests as part of the EU's external economic relations systematically improved.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen emphasised that the development of Finland's external economic relations calls for seamless cooperation between different actors on a wide front. International success stories create jobs and well-being in Finland.
"In addition to traditional export promotion, the external economic relations include efforts to remove barriers to trade and ensure that Finnish companies with international aspirations are treated equally."
Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Stubb said that the action plan was particularly topical.
"International economic challenges, as well as national deficit in trade balance and current account, have made us realise that to guarantee jobs in Finland we need internationally successful companies. Our competitiveness requires that we apply increasingly coordinated approaches to promote our companies' internationalisation efforts. These concrete measures show that the central government backs up such action."
Minister of Economic Affairs Jyri Häkämies said that the need for state support is increasing with the focus of trade shifting to developing markets:
"The need to support business ventures in the west is fairly restricted but we are dealing with a completely different situation when we speak about establishing a factory in China or exporting goods to the oil fields in Russia. This often requires an integrated approach where, for example, Finnvera is ready to carry some of the financing risk in high-risk countries, Finpro helps in the search for right partners in the difficult market, and the Finnish embassy provides assistance in dealing with the local authorities. Cooperation must be easy and manifest the 'Team Finland' spirit."
Matti Alahuhta, President and CEO of Kone Corporation who chaired the working group, attended the government evening session when the meeting discussed Finland's action plan on external economic relations. The action plan will be on the agenda of a government plenary session in the next few weeks.
New structure based on the action plan:
A 'Team Finland' steering group, working under the Prime Minister and consisting of independent experts, would be responsible for strategic guidance. All members of the Government could participate in the steering group as necessary.
A small secretariat would be set up to assist the steering group. The secretariat would produce material for preparing the strategy and improving competencies, maintain contacts with important stakeholder groups (e.g. bodies responsible for promoting exports and internationalisation, the business sector, relevant CEOs and stakeholder groups, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, academics and researchers), and coordinate the cooperation network.
The permanent secretaries' group for coordinating activities abroad is to see to the results-based management and steering of the 'Team Finland' network and to the embedding of the steering group strategies. The mandate is based on the House of Finland concept recorded in the Government Programme. It is also connected with the aim of developing cooperation between Foreign Service missions, organisations under the performance management of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and the Finnish culture and science institutes.
The group for coordinating export promotion abroad, co-chaired by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, supports practical level management. The group has representatives from the ministries, the Office of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister's Office, Finpro, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, Finnvera, the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, and the Central Chamber of Commerce. Other organisations, such as Finnfund, may be invited to join the group as necessary. The national communications organisation, currently under development, will also be involved in supporting practical level management. The contact group is responsible for coordinating and steering the preparatory work and implementation of export promotion abroad. The communications network will provide assistance in designing themes and ways to promote Finland abroad.
Inquiries: Juha Kirstilä, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister (Press Relations), tel. +358 9 1602 2242; Antti Timonen, Press Attaché to the Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade, tel. +358 40 590 7231; and Kai Mykkänen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs, tel. +358 10 606 3533