The future of China-Finland business ties will be based on trade in environmental solutions as well as investment in high-tech manufacturing, multimodel logistics and telecommunication services, said officials and company heads from both countries.
Yin Zonghua, vice-chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that even though the global economic setting has been affected by such challenges as trade protectionism and Brexit, the degree of interdependence between China and Finland remains stable in bilateral trade.
“China will continue to export consumer goods in exchange for Finland’s high-tech products such as electronic products, water treatment equipment and machinery parts,” said Yin. “Most of their imports are complementary. Therefore, it isn’t direct competition.”
China exports mainly construction machinery, manufacturing equipment, steel, electronics, textiles, garments and household appliances to Finland.
In addition to clean technology, telecommunication and pharmaceutical products, Finland ships agricultural and mechanical products, specialized vessels, transportation-related equipment and chemical products to China.
China has been Finland’s largest trading partner in Asia for 14 years. Among nations worldwide, China ranks fourth after Germany, Sweden and Russia, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
Bilateral trade volume between China and Finland amounted to $6.36 billion in 2016. China is Finland’s fourth-biggest import source and sixth-biggest export destination.
China invested $217 million from the nonfinancial sector in Finland by the end of last year, while Finnish companies invested $1.36 billion in 541 projects including steel, shipbuilding and aviation in China, data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows.
Wartsila Corp, which has headquarters in Helsinki and is one of the world’s largest ship power suppliers and manufacturers by revenue, and State-owned China State Shipbuilding Corp signed an agreement last month for an electrical and automation joint venture in Shanghai. The new plant is expected to be fully operational before midyear.
The Finnish company and CSSC also opened a new production facility under a joint venture format in Shanghai in January. This is the company’s first in China capable of locally producing large-bore, medium-speed diesel and dual-fuel engines.
“Being close to our customers is central to our global strategy,” said Han Jianfeng, president of Wartsila China.
“Wartsila really sees the growth in the marine market and China’s demand for more energy-efficient vessels. The owners demand fuel flexibility, but they also need to have environmental solutions to satisfy environmental regulations, which are getting stricter these days,” said Han.
Bai Ming, a researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said China’s long-term goal is to develop and invest in emerging and upcoming industries.
Driven by China’s surging demand and Finland’s technology edge, both sides have more room to cultivate new bright spots in energy saving, clean energy and environmental protection, Bai said.