Finland and Canada: Few barriers to trade

| July 9, 2021 | 0 Comments
Forestry is Finland’s most important sector. Ponsse Oyj is a company based in Finland that manufactures forestry vehicles and machinery. (Photo: Ponsse)

Forestry is Finland’s most important sector. Ponsse Oyj is a company based in Finland that manufactures forestry vehicles and machinery. (Photo: Ponsse)

Finland and Canada are similar countries in many respects. We have cold winters and share the same values, such as gender equality, democracy and human rights, and are passionate about ice hockey. Finland and Canada see climate change as one of the most pressing issues to tackle. The climate is warming twice as fast in the North and that is why Finland has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2035 and being an example for others to follow.
Finland and Canada have had relations for more than 100 years through migration, but official relations were established much later. In fact, next year we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of official diplomatic relations between our countries. Our trade has developed favourably and now it’s almost in balance. According to Finnish statistics, in 2020, Finland sent $803.7 million worth of goods to Canada, and imported $797.2 million worth of goods from Canada. The three biggest categories in our exports to Canada were machinery, electronic equipment and pharmaceutical products. Likewise, the three biggest import categories from Canada were ore and scrap metal, motor vehicles, coal and coke. Finland has an advantage in selling equipment and machinery to Canada, as our products are designed to function in wintery conditions — an important selling point for the Canadian buyer.
Finland is the most forested country in Europe, with three quarters of its surface covered by forests. The forestry sector has been the most important industry in Finnish economic history. It started with tar that was used in sailing boats from the medieval times onwards to keep the vessels watertight. In the 19th Century, we started to produce lumber and pulp, as well as modest amounts of paper. After the Second World War, we were a major paper exporter and Canada was one of our strongest competitors. Today, the importance of exporting printing paper has declined in both countries, as the demand is declining due to digitalization. The forest industry has had to reinvent itself and through research and development, it has come up with new products that can also help fight climate change. There are already new products based on wood material, including plastics, composites, liquid fuel, nano cellulose, lignin, medicines and textile fibres.
More than 83 per cent of all renewable energy sources in Finland are wood-based, using the side streams in lumber production, as well as byproducts of chemical processes in pulp production. Canada is looking into how to introduce similar customs in its forest industry and thus getting more renewable energy from this industry. As Finland is one of the leading countries in sustainable forestry, there is an exchange of knowledge also in this field with Canada. If this could help in preventing large forest fires in Canada, this would have an immense effect on carbon emissions, as these forest fires release more carbon than all cars on Canada’s roads combined.
The common fight against climate change plays a big role in our bilateral relations with Canada. The Finnish Embassy is looking into co-operation in fields that could cut emissions or enhance the effective use of energy and resources. A good example of this is the above-mentioned co-operation in the forestry sector. This also ties in nicely with the themes of bio-circular economy, where both countries are looking for sustainable solutions.
A new and exciting opportunity for co-operation is battery technology and minerals. Canada aims to become a leader in the production of electric vehicles and batteries in the medium term. Finland has decided to become a leader in Europe in battery technology — from lithium production to battery recycling. After initial contacts, I hope this will develop into fruitful partnerships between enterprises on both sides of the Atlantic.
Trading between Finland and Canada falls under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Most goods have low tariffs or are tariff-free, so, from a trading perspective, there are very low barriers. The EU and Finland offer ample opportunities for Canada to diversify its trading partners.

Roy Eriksson is Finland’s ambassador to Canada. Email to reach him or call (613) 288-2233.

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Category: Diplomatica

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Roy Eriksson is Finland’s ambassador to Canada. Email to reach him or call (613) 288-2233.

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