When our economy grows, we can provide the welfare services that are needed by the Finnish people while achieving more balanced public finances at the same time,” Finnish Forest Industries Federation Chairman Kari Jordan said the Federation’s seminar Exports produce one half of our welfare – What does this mean for the industrial policies of the next government in Helsinki on March 1, 2011.
The forest industry of Finland is recovering briskly from the economic downturn and concurrent structural change. The continuation of favourable developments is, however, largely dependent on the decisions domestic politicians make in the near future.
“Even though overall supply and demand are settled mostly in the export markets, the costs of raw material, labour and energy are determined in Finland. The forest industry generates one-fifth of Finland’s export revenues using these ingredients,” Mr. Jordan pointed out.
The forest industry’s Forum for the Future, which brings together the employer and employee organisations of the forest-based sector, has determined six issues that will, when realised, promote economic growth, provide jobs around Finland and generate vital export revenues in the government term following the next general elections:
1. Refunding energy taxes to energy-intensive industries must be increased
Existing climate and energy policy decisions have already increased the forest industry’s annual energy tax bill to €130 million. The tax refund system for export industries must be amended to provide us with an equal footing with competitor countries and companies.
2. Supply of reasonably priced electricity must be ensured
Nuclear power investments are vital for the export sector and must be realised as planned, without adding profitability-eroding new taxes or charges retroactively.
3. Impact of peat tax and subsidies for the energy utilisation of wood must be kept under close observation
The government must establish a mechanism – as suggested already earlier by the Federation – for observing how subsidies and taxes affect the timber market. Subsidies, which distort the timber market, must be amended when necessary.
4. Effectiveness of wood production and functionality of timber market in need of improvement
Increasing the forest utilisation rate and facilitating the market entry of wood necessitate the development of forest ownership structures to enable the steady flow of wood into the markets.
5. Condition of transport network must be improved and the cost of transport lowered
The effectiveness of transports must be safeguarded by taking better care of the usability of the rail and minor road networks. The cost burden that fuel tax hikes have caused on goods transports and the operation of work machines must be alleviated. The harmful impacts that the decision to lower the sulphur content in sea transport fuels will have on the export sector of Finland must be prevented.
6. The use of wood as an ecological construction material must be promoted
The environmental impacts of public building projects must be analysed according to the actual lifespan of buildings, taking into consideration also the manufacture of building materials and intermediate products.
“Post-election decisions must focus on the promotion of growth and increased exports as well as establish a setting that attracts innovations to Finland. This will safeguard our ability to pay for the welfare services that are needed by the people also in the future,” Chairman of the Board, Mr. Kari Jordan stressed.
Timo Jaatinen, Director General, Finnish Forest Industries Federation; +358 9 132 66 00
Fossil fuels should be replaced with bioenergy – more wood required for processing and energy generation