Address by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Finnish-Polish Business Seminar in Warsaw on 31 March 2015

It is a great pleasure for me to address this Finnish-Polish business seminar. I am happy to see such a prominent group of participants from both countries. This shows that we have plenty of potential and promise in the economic relations between our countries.

Let me start by stating the obvious: Poland is important for Finland. We are both EU-member states and Baltic Sea countries. We have active political ties and our co-operation covers several areas from defense to architecture. We share similar views on many important issues from European integration to a strong will to defend one´s country. 

We are also increasingly important economic partners. Poland has already become an important trading partner for us.  Poland is also one of the major destinations for Finnish investments. Today these investments amount to over 2 billion €. Nearly 200 Finnish companies who operate in Poland employ here some 30 000 people.

Looking at our economic landscape more broadly, one has to be clear. The global economic crisis has also left its mark in the Baltic Sea region. The general mood is less optimistic than just a few years ago when the Baltic Sea region was described as one of the most dynamic economic regions of the world. Europe is still slowly recovering from the global financial crisis as well as the Euro crisis.

This may sound a bit pessimistic here in Warsaw as Poland has been a kind of an economic exception within Europe. Despite the turbulence, you have been able to maintain growth and a positive outlook. Poland´s economic achievements have truly been impressive for many years already. Finnish companies have noticed this!

However, I am convinced that both Finland and Poland face new economic challenges. How do we reinforce our competitiveness in the demanding conditions of yet another industrial revolution and globalization? How does one graduate from manufacturing to an innovation intensive economy? And – how does one create sufficient amount of jobs in these circumstances?

I see Poland with its large domestic market as one of our partners in answering these tough questions. To put it simply: more trade and investment between us will lead to more growth and development for both of us. There is a lot of unused economic potential that we need to put into good use. 

Finland always prefers to be part of a solution, rather than part of a problem. I am aware that in the coming years Poland will be investing heavily in its energy, infrastructure and environmental sectors. We need efficient transport and energy networks to connect our markets and make our economies more secure and competitive. Finland has experiences to share and technologies to offer for in these fields. They include things like world-class Cleantech solutions and nuclear safety, for example.  I am sure my countrymen here are willing to discuss these issues later on today. Let us be part of your solution!

As you all know, innovations will continue to be the engine of growth. In Finland we have invested heavily to a knowledge-based economy. R&D investments as a percentage of the GDP are among the highest in the world and so is the availability of scientists and engineers. Active co-operation between universities and business is a must. I am especially proud of a booming startup-scene with enthusiastic and skillful young entrepreneurs.

I would like to use this opportunity to note that investments from Poland to Finland have been limited. Therefore I want to remind you that Finland with its dynamic innovation environment continues to rank among the most competitive and investment-friendly countries in the world. Follow the example of Can-Pak SA!

You will have an opportunity to discuss these issues in a more detailed way during the seminar and over the luncheon. I wish you very interesting discussions. I hope these discussions and new contacts will also lead to new Finnish-Polish projects.

Thank you! Dziękuję!