Finnish mission hopes to beef up trade with Malaysia

IN a bid to revitalise trade activities between Finland and Malaysia, the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Mari Kiviniemi, will be in Kuala Lumpur from tomorrow until Oct 5 to discuss prospects of enhancing commercial and economic cooperation with her Malaysian counterpart and other government officials. 

She is accompanied by a delegation of 16 businessmen representing prominent Finnish industries such as export financing, information and communications technology, and equipment and machinery manufacturing. 

During a meeting with officials from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Helsinki recently, Matti Pullinen, the MFA's deputy director-general for the Americas and Asia, described the visit as part of the revival in economic relations between Malaysia and Finland. 

“We have had active trade relations with Malaysia, especially after the visit of our former president, Martti Ahtisaari, there in 1995,” he said.  

However, he said, there were less activities by the late 1990s mainly because of the Asian economic crisis, which had all kinds of consequences.  

“But in the last couple of years, we are again seeing better trade figures,” Pullinen said. 

“Overall, activities are picking up again, and the visit of our Minister is part of that revival.” 

In January 2005, according to statistics compiled by the Finnish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Finland’s trade with Malaysia amounted to 7.5mil euros in exports and 23.2mil euros in imports.  

“It's going to be an interesting visit, looking at the companies that will be participating,” commented Jukka Ropponen, CEO of e-learning services and solutions provider Tieturi Vision Oy, who heads the business delegation. 

Among the companies taking part in the delegation are Ahlstrom Corporation (non-woven and speciality papers), HSH Nordbank AG and Nordea Bank Finland Plc (banking services), Sanako Corporation (language teaching solutions), Konecranes Pte Ltd (engineering group specialising in lifting solutions and maintenance services), Bang & Bonsomer Oy (distributor of industrial chemical specialties, plastics, and basic chemicals), Vaisala Oy (telecommunications and electronics – meteorological measurement systems), Tieturi Vision (e-learning solutions), Silo Oy (environment products), Patria Vehicles Oy (aerospace and defence industry), and Metso Corporation (process industry machinery and systems). 

“We have a wide variety of companies coming, which actually shows we are very interested in doing business with Malaysian companies,” said Ropponen who has come to Malaysia several times, including last year when he visited the Education Ministry here. 

“We hope to make some high level introductions, move to something concrete, where things are already happening,” said Rapponen.  

“After all, there are already a number of Finnish companies operating in Malaysia.”  

(Over 40 Finnish companies are currently operating in Malaysia and more than 100 Finnish companies are doing business with Malaysian enterprises.) 

Kiviniemi is scheduled to hold talks with International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz and other government officials. 

On Oct 5 there will be a Finnish-Malaysian business seminar and networking luncheon where businessmen from both countries can meet.  

“If the Malaysian business community is interested in meeting with the business delegation or knowing about Finnish companies, they can get in touch with our embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” Pullinen said. 

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