Sin­ga­pore and Fin­land’s strong dig­i­tal ties boost trade

There are 170 Fin­nish com­pa­nies that are cur­rently reg­is­tered in Sin­ga­pore.

Singapore Business Review - - COUNTRY REPORT: FINLAND -

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.

Mu­tual ben­e­fits

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

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