The main mission of the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce (FRCC) is to combine Finnish know-how with the Russian market capabilities. CEO Jaana Rekolainen shared why Finland can be of interest to Russian businesses and what topics are most relevant for the FRCC today in an interview with Invest Foresight business magazine on the sidelines of the 2020 Gaidar Forum organized by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).
— What are the current priorities for the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce?
—The main mission of the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce is to bring together Finnish know-how and the capabilities of the Russian market. We offer a range of effective services and organize events. We send missions to different regions of Russia, and provide consultations for Finnish companies that want to enter the Russian market or are already working here. But most importantly, we connect representatives of Finnish business with representatives of Russian business. As for the most relevant topics, I must say that one topic – waste management – became highly relevant last year. We will continue to study it and work on it through 2020.
— How significant are bilateral cooperation and problems of modern technology?
— They are becoming increasingly more significant because the market is changing and developing by leaps and bounds. We can see that Russia is paying a lot of attention to such issues as decapitalization and smart solutions. There are smart city projects. So Finnish high-tech developments and new smart solutions are indeed in demand. But here as well, we need to find common ground and space for mutual cooperation.
— You mentioned smart cities. Many believe that Moscow is one of the smartest cities in the world. Do you agree?
— Absolutely. Moscow has been growing rapidly in this respect. The city has become very comfortable for an ordinary visitor. Moscow’s progress is definitely obvious.
— As we know, Moscow does not represent the entire Russia. From the point of view of a body regulating multilateral economic and financial commercial relationships, how attractive is the investment climate in Russia for Finnish companies?
— Yes, we know that outside Moscow, it’s another country, therefore we also have offices in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. We made it our business mission to operate in Russian regions as well. Speaking of the current investment attractiveness, we need to mention that Finnish businesses, just like Russian and international ones, are cautious about new investments. Twice a year we prepare questions for a ‘barometer’ poll on Russian-Finnish trade. Last year, the Finnish companies felt positive about working in Russia. We do two polls, in the fall and in the spring. According to the fall poll, 28% of respondents planned new investments. But it is important that these investments are directed mostly to affiliates and representative offices. That is, large-scale investments in production facilities are rare.
— What about the Russian investments in Finland, are there many such projects? If they are there at all.
— There are investments, but only separate ones, unfortunately. They are very scarce in volume as compared to Finnish investments in Russia.
— Is there a growth potential, in your opinion?
— I think there is. For instance, for those Russian companies that want to enter the European market and the market of third countries through Finland and to create a production facility there and thus be part of the European Union.
— Yes, this is interesting. And again, if we go back to, say, the late 1980s-early 1990s, there were many joint enterprises, first Soviet-Finnish ones, then Russian-Finnish. What is the current situation with joint enterprises?
— I think there are not on trend now. This trend has passed. Yes, there is cooperation, but in new forms. It is not necessary to create a joint company to cooperate.
By Taras Fomchenkov