FinnTribune report: The Lapland Chamber of Commerce estimates the investment potential in the European High North (EHN) at 195 billion euros in the next five years.
At the same time, new business possibilities are opening through bioeconomy and China’s strategic investments in the Arctic north, pointed out the speakers at the opening ceremony of 7th Arctic Business Forum organised by the Lapland Chamber of Commerce at the Korundi house of culture in Rovaniemi on Wednesday.
According to the Arctic Business Forum’s new yearbook 2016, the combined investment potential for the northern parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway as well as Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in Russia is over 195 billion euros, same as last year.
New possibilities in the field of bioenergy are emerging, alongside traditional offshore industries.
“The investment potential of the region still exists, even though many of the projects are at standstill. We now need perseverance, resilience and adaptability,” said Lapland Chamber of Commerce President Timo Rautajoki. He was speaking at the opening day’s plenary session on arctic trends and investment.
“Green economy opens tremendous amounts of new business opportunities. New business models have a positive impact not only on the business environment, but also for the employment level and even traffic infrastructure of the whole region,” said Hannele Pokka, undersecretary at the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.
Pekka Koponen, managing director of Kaidi Finland, said the investment potential of Lapland has been further increased by the major investment project worth a billion euro planned by the Chinese-owned company Kaidi Finland in the city of Kemi in the Finnish Lapland.
He said the company is planning to build a new generation state of the art biodiesel refinery, which would use wood-based biomass as raw material.
The project would bring numerous new business possibilities for companies and would be a great example of a desired foreign investment.
Kemi Mayor Tero Nissinen said there are huge potential of the Kemi area which needs more cooperation for future development. He said Kaidi’s investment will boost the economic scenario of Kemi-Tornio region in the near future.
Zhang Bin, counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Finland, pointed out different measures for further business cooperation between China and Finland.
For the first time, risks concerning Arctic business are presented in Arctic Business Forum. One of the main risks seems to be the fading interest towards the whole region, which may lead to a decrease in the interest to invest after the tremendous Arctic hype, economic crisis and decline in the prices of raw materials.
Earlier, US Ambassador to Finland Charles C. Adams Jr, Deputy Head of Cabinet Kristian Hedberg of the Cabinet of Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska of European Commission, Regional Council of Lapland County Governor Mika Riipi, and Chairman of the board of Lapland Chamber of Commerce Juha Mäkimattila addressed the inaugural session of the convention.
The US ambassador said Finland is the global leader in clean technology. There are wide business opportunities for clean tech in Finland.
Charles mentioned that the next Arctic council chairmanship for Finland will open scope for a major expansion of bilateral issues.
“US is now the 6th largest trade partner of Finland and we have to do better,” he said, adding, “There is a scope for major expansion in the volume of own bilateral trade and investment between US and Finland.”
He said during the US part of the Arctic chairmanship, the climate change and the preservation of the Arctic environment were the priority.
Hedberg said the new Arctic policy of EU is coming soon. A safe, sustainable and prosperous Arctic is important for itself, but the interests are also for the European Union as a whole.
Mika Riipi said the Arctic will be the centre of geopolitics in the future. He mentioned that within two weeks Finland will finalise the decision about joining the Northern Forum – an organisation of eight Arctic countries, to increase the regional cooperation in the Arctic region.
He said now only environment, sustainable development and indigenous people are featuring strongly in the national policy of Finland. Besides the sustainability and other issues, he pointed out about the possible increase in economical and logistical issues in the national Arctic strategy.
Juha Mäkimattila said the Arctic region of Finland has proven as a highly potential hub for business opportunities.
Trade and Development representative Eero Suominen also spoke in the session.
Four different discussions were held during the opening day. Those were Arctic trends and investments, Arctic industry and sustainability, Arctic tourism, and European Arctic & China.
Member of Parliament Katri Kulmuni and Rovaniemi City Council Chairman Heikki Autto took part in the closing Ministry of Foreign session moderated by Lapland Chamber of Commerce president Timo Rautajoki.