Interview: China-Finland innovation cooperation boasts huge potential: Finnish business leader

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-31 12:53:35|Editor: Yamei
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HELSINKI, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Huge potential lies in the innovation cooperation between Finland and China especially in the coming years, said Petri Vuorio, director for international trade of the Confederation of Finnish Industries.

Finland is one of the world's leading innovation economies, and China is striving to achieve economic growth based on innovation and is already a forerunner in many fields, so "there are a lot of opportunities to combine our expertise and reach good results," Vuorio told Xinhua in a recent interview.

China and Finland launched a committee for innovative business this June, two months after Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the northern European country.

"We at the business community are very satisfied with the development of the economic relations," said Vuorio. The trend gained momentum especially during Xi's visit, and one example was to bring up the China-Finland Committee for Innovative Business cooperation. "We have high expectations regarding the future cooperation on the innovation sector," noted Vuorio.

The committee concluded a second general meeting early December, and decided to set up several working groups focusing on energy, maritime logistics, industrial innovations, clean air and clean tech and forest industry.

"I was very happy that we had over 50 guests from China visiting Finland" at the committee meeting, and "we also see a lot of room for further cooperation," said Vuorio.

Taking the energy sector for example, Vuorio said "we have a lot of opportunities for win-win cooperation between China and Finland." The most hopeful projects will concern clean and renewable energy solutions, such as flexible smart grids, certain district heating and cooling solutions, he added.

Another example is the working group on maritime logistics, which "is close to the opportunities of the Belt and Road Initiative," said Vuorio. "We can combine our expertise in cooperation projects in third countries with the need of technologies there when it comes to the harbors."

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which calls for better economic connectivity, political coordination and cultural exchanges among countries and regions, has won positive reaction in Finland.

Praising the initiative, Vuorio said the opportunities for better cooperation lie in areas such as transportation, technology, energy and infrastructure, "where the demand and Finnish technological solutions meet almost perfectly," he said.

A cargo train packed with Nordic produced electronics, clothes and pulp and paper left Kouvola, eastern Finland for Xi'an, central China in November, opening the first railway link between the Nordics and China. Crossing Russia and central Asia, the 9,000-km land route shortens the travel time by 30 days compared with normal sea freight.

Meanwhile, the construction of a digital sea cable linking the Nordics and East Asia via the Arctic Ocean is under review, and more projects such as the Arctic Railway and the tunnel linking Helsinki and Tallinn, among others, has also been put on table.

Vuorio believed the two-year chairmanship of Finland in the Arctic Council, which started in May 2017, bears more opportunities "that we have with China to further develop the cooperation in the Arctic areas when it comes to the northern sea routes and data cable related issues and many other Arctic cooperation opportunities."

Some 400 Finnish companies are investing in China, and many of them either have production facilities or research and development centers there. "We are not only exporting products and services to China, but China is very important home market for many Finnish companies," Vuorio underlined.

Finnish economy is highly export driven, and China has been Finland's biggest business partner in Asia for a long time. Finnish businessmen have closely followed the 19th National Congress of Communist Party of China in October. They are interested in "how the economic policy of China will develop within the following five years and what kind of impact it has on the openness of the market and regulation and economic development," said Vuorio.

"We both support free trade and see globalization trend of China positively. This is very promising and I believe that decisions made in the congress are supporting the future activities of Finnish companies in China."