Germany’s Needs Are Finland’s Expertise
Finland’s technological prowess creates natural synergies with Germany. GTAI’s Finland representative Niklas Becker and Jan Feller, head of the German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce, discuss future business prospects.
How much did the coronavirus pandemic affect the Finnish economy?
Niklas Becker: Comparatively speaking in Europe, Finland’s economy was hit less hard. One reason was the low numbers of Covid-19 cases. The high degree of digitalization also helped limit the effects of the pandemic. In 2020, GDP declined by 2.9 percent. In 2021, especially in the latter half of the year, robust growth is expected, and Finland should reach pre-corona economic levels by the start of next year at the latest. Private consumption and increased exports are driving the growth. That creates synergies that benefit not just the AHK and GTAI, but German and Finnish companies in particular.
What are the main reasons for Finnish companies to expand into Germany?
Jan Feller: Germany is Finland’s largest trading partner. The Finns export more every year to Germany than to North and South America combined. That alone is a major reason. For some years now, Finland has also been Europe’s most highly digitalized country, and now it’s ranked number one in the UN report of sustainable development. Germany needs innovations in both areas. Our task is to open up opportunities for Finnish companies with our go-to-market services. Once a company has had some success on the German market, the next step is to set up a company there. Having a subsidiary on the local level is important, especially when working with German SMEs.
Niklas Becker and Jan Feller work in close cooperation to create opportunities that promote business expansion. © AHK Finnland
How much further foreign expansion do you predict? What role will Germany play?
Becker: Finnish companies have recently expanded more and more abroad. Even in 2020. And Germany has been the top market recently. Because of the size of its market and its high demand for technologies in which Finland is considered groundbreaking, Germany will play a major role.
Which sectors did the companies you’ve recently helped come from?
Feller: Finland’s advantage in digitalization has made itself felt with the companies we have helped to expand into Germany. In recent years, these have primarily been firms working in software, artificial intelligence and analytics.
How do the German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce (AHK Finland) and GTAI cooperate in Helsinki?
Feller: Since I started here in 2015, our work together has been completely and pragmatically oriented toward our common goal of promoting the economies of both countries. We complement one another with our expertise. In terms of Finnish exports to Germany , an impressive 80 percent come from our member companies. This represents a valuable pool of contacts for promoting trade.
Becker: We work in close cooperation and actively include one another in various projects.