Boosting the Business Relations Between Finland and Canada

The debut event of Johanna Tarvainen’s new company inspired the participants to improve the business relations between Finland and Canada.

On Monday June 20th experts in Finnish-Canadian relations from North-European chambers of commerce, Finpro and various other Finnish-Canadian organisations gathered to Ontario Investment and Trade Centre to discuss and share their experiences of the trade between Finland and Canada.
The purpose of the seminar was to map the possibilities and barriers of Finnish-Canadian trade and to share some of the success stories on the field. The event was the first one organised by Johanna Tarvainen’s new company Merenbridge Consulting. Co-hosting was the ambassador of Finland to Canada, Risto Piipponen.
– Lots have been achieved in the trade between Canada and Finland but lots are still to be achieved, Piipponen stated in the beginning of the seminar.
He said that based on his experiences, such as his trips around the country, there is a huge demand for Finnish expertise in Canada.
– The Canadians want to do business with the Finns. Finland and Finnish companies are well known and appreciated here.
Piipponen continued by saying that Finland has plenty to give to Canada for example on the fields of energy and oil, waste management, ship building and arctic technology. He said that he wishes that within a few years the Finnish companies work together with the Canadians, and with each other, on the abovementioned fields.
– The only way success can be achieved is by working hard. The homework has to be done and the markets have to be surveyed, Piipponen who says that he spends a great amount of his time with the trade between the two countries. He emphasised that before a company should even think about heading to the Canadian markets, they need to have a great product.
According to Piipponen, the network of the already existing organisations and promoting experts can and should be used: in addition to the embassy, such organisations as Finpro, the chambers of commerce and the newcomer Merenbridge Consulting are helping the Finnish companies to make it in Canada – and vice versa.
– Work together, don’t compete with each other, Piipponen reminded these instances.
The ambassador said also that even though the Finns and Finnish companies are great, they are not irreplaceable.
– If we are not here to respond the demand, someone else is. The Canadians won’t wait for the Finns to arrive.

Canada as a Port to the US
The seminar continued by examining the topic from different viewpoints: Uponor’s Nik Ljiljanic and Nokia Siemens Network’s Petri Lyytikäinen shared the success stories of their companies and KPMG’s Dan Vance talked about the Canadian and North-American markets from the taxation point of view.
– The taxation is much lower in Canada than it is in the US. In that sense, a company that wants to conquer the North-American markets should consider setting their headquarters here instead of the US, Vance pointed out.
Ljiljanic for his part noted that Canada is a good country for businesses in that sense too that is survived relatively well the global recession that hit the markets a few years back.
– But on the other hand, the strong Canadian dollar has created some challenges.
Also the presidents of the Finnish chambers of commerce in Toronto, Montreal and New York, Peter Auvinen, Christian de Saint-Rome and Neal Beaton, shared their experiences about contributing to the Finnish-Canadian relations. They also talked about the significance of the support organisations.

The Seminar Met the Expectations and Shall Have Continuation

After the seminar, Johanna Tarvainen says that the event turned out pretty well. According to the feedback Tarvainen has received also the expectations the participants had were fulfilled.
– I have received very positive feedback. People have said that the seminar was a great opportunity to network with the people from different backgrounds and that it was a great opening for further discussion.
Tarvainen says that, as wished, there will be more events like this not later than next year.
– I believe this will turn out to be at least an annual event. Although, next year I won’t time the event so close to midsummer.
Tarvainen thanks ambassador Piipponen for his contribution to the seminar.
– He seems to be very passionate about the topic, which is a great thing. That kind of leadership is much welcomed when it comes to the Finland-Canada trade.
Tarvainen’s Merenbridge Consulting, established earlier this year, is a company specialized in creating bridges from the other side of the Atlantic to North-America, especially for the Scandinavian and Finnish companies.
– The first months of the company have been pretty good. I am now concentrating in putting the name out there and I already have a few clients, Tarvainen says.

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