Magazine article International Trade Forum

Keys to Export Success: Finland

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Keys to Export Success: Finland

Article excerpt

Finland was comparatively late in "globalizing" its economy. In fact, Finland ranked last in terms of internationalization among developed countries surveyed in the World Economic Forum/IMD 1993 World Competitiveness Report. Yet, in less than ten years, Finland has established itself as a model of international business effectiveness, diversified its export mix in composition and destination and has become a major player in the export of high technology products and services.

Finland now ranks third in terms of overall competitiveness, despite losing two of its key competitive advantages:

its special trading relationship with the former Soviet Union and other east European countries, due to economic and political changes in Russia and neighbouring countries.

its network of industry-level cooperative export associations, abolished as a condition for joining the European Union.

How did this previously resource-based economy with high labour costs, a small domestic market and a traditional strong focus on the single export market of the former Soviet Union become a successful "value-added" exporter in such a short time? Privatization and corporate restructuring, reform of the banking sector, devaluation of the Finish markka, public and private sector cost-cutting and entry into the European Union all made a significant contribution to Finland's successful repositioning.

Finland's strategic approach

Emphasize internationalization of the firm.

The internationalization strategy:

promotes Finland as the business centre of a "New Northern Europe" (with some 60 million people within 24-hour travelling distance of the Finnish capital, Helsinki). It seeks involvement (both financial and technical) in economic and industrial development projects in the transition economies of eastern and central Europe;

ensures internal competition, so that Finnish firms operate to internationally competitive standards of quality and efficiency;

provides firms with a full range of intemationalization consultancy services - trade, investment, joint venturing and technology - through marketbased trade centres (for a fee);

promotes inward and outward foreign investment;

encourages technology contacts between Finnish and foreign companies; and

positions Finnish companies as partners in international "chain corporations" with a more sophisticated role than pure subcontracting. …

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