In an exclusive interview with fDi Magazine, Finland's president, Sauli Niinisto, has said that he considers inward FDI attraction to be as important as promoting exports. “In Finland, historically, it is said that one of the most important mandates for the president is to enhance and promote exports. I am changing the view of that and promoting not only trade, but also capital investments into the country,” said Mr Niinisto, who took presidential office in March 2012.
According to Mr Niinisto, there is a mismatch between the country’s attractive business climate and the amount of investment it actually attracts. The Finnish economy has been regarded as one of the most stable in recent years and its pro-business approach is often praised. Yet, data from data from fDi Markets shows that the country does not even feature in the top 20 most popular destinations for crossborder investments between 2011 and 2012.
The Finnish push for inward FDI stems from the fact that Nokia, the country’s largest company, is currently in crisis. The multinational communications and information technology corporation, which for years had been the world's biggest mobile phone vendor, was overtaken by Samsung in 2012. It saw its sales contract by 22% in the third quarter of 2012, when compared to the same period a year earlier. Mr Niinisto admitted that Nokia’s decrease in sales means that the country needs to attract foreign investments “more urgently” than in the past.
To promote trade and investments to the country, in February 2013 a 'Team Finland' project was launched. The project links 72 Finnish public entities around the world into one network and centres around three ministries: the ministry of employment and the economy, the ministry for foreign affairs and the ministry of education and culture.
“Sometimes, [a country] tends to have different organisations doing almost the same thing. That happened in Finland,” says Mr Niinisto. “This is the way to collect every single organisation and institution which operates in the area of exports or industry, and pull them into more co-operation.”
In the first three quarters of 2012, Finland attracted 31 new projects, ranking its FDI attraction at the same level as Denmark and Estonia, but behind Sweden, which attracted 51 new ventures in the period. But in the final quarter of the year, Finland attracted less than half the number of investments that it had attracted in the same quarter of 2011.