Luncheon Meeting 23 May, 2001
"The Visions of the Finnish Foreign Trade in Light of the Success in the 90's"

Guest speaker:
Kimmo Sasi, Minister of Foreign Trade
Finland has gone through a lot during the 1990s and not all of that period can truthfully be called successful. In the early 1990s Finland went through the last stages of a bubble economy, recession and huge unemployment. On the other hand this economic crises prepared us thoroughly for the new developments in our economic environment. We have come a long way since then: Finland was rated as the third most competitive country in the world -after USA and Singapore- in a study published recently by IMD.
The increase in our competitiveness can be clearly seen in the trade statistics. A big trade surplus has enabled the Finnish government to embark on an accelerated repayment schedule on the national debt, which had ballooned during the recession.
Another clearly visible feature in the Finnish economy is the strongly advancing globalisation of the Finnish enterprises. According to the recent survey conducted by the Confederation of Finnish Industry, in 1999 68 % of the turnover of Finnish companies came from their overseas operations, while 46 % of their personnel worked abroad. Thus, their foreign turnover is already almost as large as Finland's total exports, which were worth approximately 50 billion euro in 2000. The total amount of foreign direct investment by the Finnish companies exceeds 50 billion euro, while they employ abroad over 200 000 people. According to the same survey, the turnover of international operations of Finnish companies is estimated to more than double its value from the 1999 level (77billion euro) by 2004. The international expansion of Finnish companies can partially be explained by the new opportunities offered by Finlands accession to the EU in 1995, but a major part is purely new thinking by the enterprises themselves.

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From left: Pentti Kotiranta, Commercial Counsellor, Finland Trade Center (Finpro), Ambassador Eero Salovaara, Clas G. Bystedt, FCCJ Executive Director, Minister Sasi, Timo Varhama, FCCJ President (Nippon Finnpap), Marko Saarelainen, FCCJ Board Member (Honka Japan), Pekka Roine, CEO, Solid, Jouni Asikainen, FCCJ Board Member (Kemira-Ube)
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FCCJ President Timo Varhama introduces the speaker, behind Masami Homma, interpreter at Embassy of Finland.
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Interested audience, from left: Ilpo Reitmaa, TEKES, Jari Sinkari, Embassy of Finland, Antti Eskola, Delegation of the European Commission, Bin Lee, Senon Ltd, Erik Ullner, Konigstedt Ltd. and Pasi Polkki, Nordea Group.
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88 persons attended the meeting at Capitol Tokyu Hotel.