Singapore and Finland’s strong digital ties boost trade
There are 170 Finnish companies that are currently registered in Singapore.
In September, Singapore’s Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Manpower Sam Tan’s visit to Helsinki to meet senior Finnish officials reaffirmed the support for the early ratification of the European Union-singapore Free Trade Agreement that would see healthier trade and business relations between the city-state and the eurozone. Aside from this event, the Suomi Finland 100 events, a commemoration of Finland’s 100th year of independence, also saw over 100 Finnish organisations and entrepreneurs visit Singapore, which further boosted technical and skills cooperation between Finnish and Singaporean businesses.
For Arttu Salmenhaara, chairman of the Finnish Business Council, relationships between the two progressive countries have never been better. He noted that both Finnish and Singaporean buyers and sellers understand the importance of high quality of products and services, as well as the meaning of deep technology competence. “Singapore and Finland share similar mindset and way to do business in many industries and also in government level,” the Finnish Business Council chairman said.
Finland’s export to Singapore totalled S$298 million last year, with more than half consisting of machinery, equipment and modes of transport, as well as manufactured goods, chemicals, IT hardware, and electronic products. Imports to Finland from Singapore, meanwhile, amounted to S$158 million, with 80% comprised of machinery, equipment, and means of transport.
Deeply rooted connections
Currently, there are 170 companies with Finnish major ownership that are registered in Singapore, whilst less than 20 Singaporean-owned companies are registered in the European country. Salmenhaara noted that beyond finance including payment of fiscal duties, Finnish companies contribute knowledge and technology know-how through local partnerships and collaborations.
“Larger Finnish companies operating in Singapore have a lot of training and development programmes for all their employees that contribute to the development of the work force, for example, in the area of digitalisation,” he said, mentioning established firms such as KONE, Nokia, Wärtsilä, Neste, and Marinetek who have local operations in the Southeast Asian nation.
For Salmenhaara, there is both a practical and economic underpinning why Finnish companies should look at setting up shop and start to have a presence in Singapore—the city-state is a “coordination node” and a gateway for expansion given the vast market potential in Southeast Asia, India, and the greater Asia-pacific region. “Singapore is a great first market in the region while developing channels towards large markets nearby,” he said.
This bodes well both countries’ expertise and established experience in developing digital solutions and openness to digitalisation and innovation. Digital solutions for different verticals are a big opportunity, according to Salmenhaara, adding that verticals with good traction, at the moment, include healthcare and wellness, education and learning, maritime and ports, housing and infrastructure, as well as traffic and mobility.
“Finland is well known for its
ICT excellence,” he said, adding that this complements to Singapore’s voracious support of digital innovations and encouragement of startups entering the market through financial and policy support.
However, the relationship is not a one-way highway. Salmenhaara shared that Singapore can be considered a good access point for Finnish companies looking at entering Asian markets in Southeast Asia and beyond.
Finland can also be a great entry point for companies and corporations who would like to engage and expand in Nordic markets and the rest of the European Union. This is on top of the rich and unique technological experience that Singapore can share to Finnish and other European companies.
finland’s export to Singapore totalled $298 million last year, with more than half consisting of machinery, equipment and modes of transport, as well as manufactured goods, chemicals, IT hardware, and electronic products.
Finnish Business Council, Team Finland and SF100 Singapore organised the second “Finland – Singapore – Facing Common Challenges” Dialogue Series