Team Finland activities at the Foreign Ministry
The Foreign Ministry and Finland’s diplomatic missions monitor and promote Finland’s economic interests abroad. The geographically extensive network of missions provides enterprises with public services related to the promotion of export and internationalisation, in cooperation with other Team Finland actors.
The Foreign Ministry serves among others in the following sectors of Team Finland’s activities:
Finland’s external economic relations are handled by the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry’s tasks within the Team Finland network include the identification of changes in the global operating environment and exerting influence on them – such as the removal of trade barriers and support for an open international operating environment promoting competition.
Changes in the global operating environment directly affect Finnish companies operating on the international market. Examples of such changes include, for example, a rise in a target market’s import duties, new certification requirements hampering trade, a competitor’s product dumping, EU free trade agreement negotiations or direction of the World Trade Organization trade negotiation round.
It is important that Finnish enterprises operating abroad report any trade barriers they encounter to the network so that these can be influenced collectively.
The Common Commercial Policy of the EU accounts for a large part of Finland’s trade policy. However, a significant share of the exertion of influence related to Finnish enterprises’ economic operating environment and the preconditions for their operations is a national activity.
Trade barriers include all official and private-sector measures that restrict the market access of products.
Trade barriers may be, for instance, high customs tariffs, import, export and customs procedures that increase costs unnecessarily, technical regulations discriminatory to foreign companies and products, shortcomings in the protection of industrial and intellectual property rights as well as a lack of regulatory transparency.
The most suitable tool for removing an individual trade barrier is selected on a case-specific basis following a detailed analysis of the problem.
Problems can be solved, among others, bilaterally, for instance in connection with trade missions promoting export and internationalisation led by a minister, with the help of the European Commission and through multilateral cooperation. Several different means can be applied simultaneously.
The extensive network of diplomatic missions makes it possible to exert direct bilateral influence. Often the Foreign Ministry asks the European Commission to address the problem at the same time, to convey the message more effectively.
Bilateral influence is often based on EU agreements concluded with third countries and the problem-solving mechanisms defined in them. Finland also has bilateral agreements with non-EU countries, which include cooperation mechanisms that can be utilised in addressing barriers to trade. One such example is the Commission for Economic Cooperation between Finland and Russia.
Multilateral cooperation to remove trade barriers takes place in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The European Commission conducts negotiations in the WTO on the basis of trade policy objectives set by the EU Member States.
The Foreign Ministry works to increase Finland’s recognisability as an attractive target for foreign direct investments. This requires active, long-term work abroad.
The positive economic, technological and employment impacts of foreign investments have been observed worldwide. Attracting investments has become an intense activity where everyone competes against everyone else – industrialised countries amongst themselves, developing countries against each other and both industrialised and developing countries amongst one another.
In this intense international competition, the Foreign Service markets Finland in cooperation with Invest in Finland. Invest in Finland is an organisation promoting foreign investment in Finland.
In practice, the Foreign Service assists Invest in Finland in delineating business sectors and target countries interesting to Finland and in customer acquisition in target countries through the diplomatic missions.
The aim is, in particular, to select target countries whose foreign investments are substantial or growing rapidly and that match the selected business sectors.
Finland is also marketed as an investment target in connection with the most important high-level international meetings and visits.
Finland’s country brand has a great impact on how Finnish business activities, the business environment and the investment climate are viewed and understood abroad.
In Finland, country branding is coordinated by the Finland Promotion Board, whose secretariat is located in the Department for Communications of the Foreign Ministry.
Country branding is done in all of Finland’s diplomatic missions abroad, though its objectives and scope may vary.
The well-functioning Finnish society, Finns’ close relationship with nature and a top-ranking system of basic education are not only sources of pride; when used properly, they can also be effective tools.
The country brand website (finland.fi) is called thisisFINLAND. The same name is used for country branding social media channels in English, Russian and Chinese.