Experts of Russian business join forces under the leadership of Esko Aho

Three Finnish centres of expertise in Russian business activities are pooling their resources to accelerate trade relations with our eastern neighbour. Esko Aho has been appointed to head the Business Team for Russia cooperation venture.

The Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce (FRCC), East Office and EK’s Russia functions will form the leading centre of expertise in their field. The new Business Team for Russia cooperation venture will enable them to assist companies through all development stages of Russian business activities. Their networks extend from local-level companies and authorities to top political decision-makers in Finland, Russia and the EU.

The different parties complement one another. The FRCC has a strong foothold in the promotion of exports and internationalisation especially as a partner to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). East Office is an expert consultancy for leading industrial corporations and EK supervises the interests of the entire Finnish business sector, particularly with regard to trade policy issues.

Promoting Russian market access for SMEs 

Mr Esko Aho was today appointed to chair the new joint board of the FRCC and East Office. Mr Aho’s considerable expertise in Russian affairs and direct channels of influence were built during his tenures as Prime Minister of Finland, President of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations and Responsibility at Nokia. Mr Aho wants to guide trade relations between our nations into a new phase of rapid growth. He will also participate on the practical level by utilising his Moscow networks to the benefit of Finnish firms.

Mr Aho insists that SMEs and growth companies in particular must now be provided with access to the opportunities of the Russian market. The immediate market surrounding St Petersburg alone equals the size of the Finnish market and Finns enjoy a logistical position of advantage there. A number of gigantic infrastructure projects are being prepared in different parts of Russia and demand for services is also growing.

Measured in volume of trade, Russia is Finland’s biggest trade partner. Its significance will be further emphasised as uncertainty about the EU’s economic prospects continues. Finnish companies have made direct investments totalling some €10-12 billion into Russia. More than 600 Finnish companies are already active in Russia and together they employ over 50,000 locals. Even so, a great amount of commercial potential remains untapped in Russia.

Shared premises in both Helsinki and Moscow

The Business Team for Russia slogan refers to the partnership uniting the Russian functions of the FRCC, East Office and EK. They will retain their existing core tasks and continue as independent organisations. The cooperation agreement authorised the formation of a joint board for the FRCC and East Office, and it will steer the tripartite Russian collaboration project.

Business Team for Russia will link with the Team Finland network of Finnish export and internationalisation promoters. The aim is to observe Team Finland’s philosophy and focus on teamwork in order to together achieve better results with limited resources. Cooperation and customer service will be enhanced by moving into shared premises: the FRCC and East Office will move to Eteläranta, Helsinki, where they will share the same address with EK. The FRCC and East Office are looking for shared office space in Moscow as well. More than half of their employees work in Russia.

EK Director Mr Kai Mykkänen has been named as chief coordinator and he will support the planning and organisation of the Business Team for Russia operating model alongside his usual responsibilities for the remainder of 2013.

Further information:
Director Kai Mykkänen, Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, tel. +358 40 592 1499, kai.mykkanen@ek.fi
CEO Mirja Tiri, Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce, tel. +358 50 433 8168, mirja.tiri@svkk.fi
CEO René Nyberg, East Office of Finnish Industries, tel. +358 50 420 3840, rene.nyberg@eastoffice.fi