Finnvera’s seminar discussed the State’s role in promoting exports
The seminar ‘Support for export growth – the role of the State of Finland’, organised by Finnvera on 23 November 2016, focused on the State’s role in ensuring the success of Finnish enterprises in international competition.
The seminar was opened by Pauli Heikkilä, CEO of Finnvera, who underscored that Finnvera wants to offer Finnish companies the same starting points as those offered by the export credit agencies of competitor countries in their own countries.
“The playing field is increasingly challenging. We compete against bigger players, such as Germany, Sweden and Italy,” Heikkilä said.
However, Heikkilä stressed that it is not the purpose, nor desirable, to compete on the terms of export financing.
“This should be restricted by international agreements. But until that happens, Finland and Finnvera have to meet the challenge.”
Demand for Finnvera’s export financing has increased steeply in recent years. In fact, Parliament is currently debating a Government proposal that would raise Finnvera’s statutory limits for export financing from the current EUR 19 billion to EUR 27 billion.
“We can ask whether Finland can afford not to offer its enterprises the same type of services as international competitors do,” Heikkilä pondered.
In his address, Topi Vesteri, Deputy CEO of Finnvera and President of the Berne Union, discussed the role of export credit agencies in the changing landscape of world trade.
“Globally, exports have grown most rapidly in China. In consequence, Chinese public financial institutions have become the largest providers of export financing. The playing field is less level than ever before because the international rules only apply to OECD members. Now it’s interesting to see whether the Trump Administration will close public export financing in the United States or whether it sees the opportunity to create jobs through exports,” said Vesteri.
Panellists: Statutory limits must be sufficiently high
The importance of the State for exports was also discussed by two panels. The members on the first panel were Ilona Lundström, Director General of the Enterprise and Innovation Department, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment; Pentti Pikkarainen, Director General of the Financial Markets Department, Ministry of Finance; Tommi Toivola, Chief Policy Adviser, Confederation of Finnish Industries; and Peter Zettinig, Researcher, University of Turku.
The panellists considered it important to ensure that the State contributes to the success of Finnish export enterprises. They would like to see more input to support the export efforts of SMEs. However, the panel underlined that risks need to be balanced.
The second panel concentrated on the perspective of companies. The panellists were Jan Meyer, CEO, Meyer Turku; Timo Ihamuotila, CFO, Nokia Corporation; Kari Hietanen, Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Legal Affairs, Wärtsilä Corporation; and Hannu Puhakka, Managing Partner, MB Funds (Kotka Mills).
The panel recognised that Finnvera very often has a major role in bringing export transactions to a successful conclusion. It is therefore important that the statutory limits for export financing are high enough for Finnish companies to do well in the ever more stringent international competition.
Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku, pointed out that when large Finnish companies win major deals, the benefits also trickle down to an extensive network of subcontractors.
“The orders for ships secured by the Turku shipyard have a strong positive impact on the SME sector. When smaller enterprises have the opportunity to swim in our tail water, up to 15,000 jobs can be created in Finland,” Meyer said.
Tarja Svartström, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and HR, tel. +358 40 826 2006
Finnvera provides financing for the start, growth and internationalisation of enterprises and for protection against export risks. We strengthen the operating potential and competitiveness of Finnish enterprises by providing loans, domestic guarantees and export financing services. The risks involved in financing are shared between Finnvera and other providers of financing. Finnvera is a specialised financing company owned by the State of Finland. It has official Export Credit Agency (ECA) status. www.finnvera.fi