The decisions that set the cost of raw materials, labour and energy – the ingredients used by the forest industry to generate one-fifth of our nation’s export revenues – are made in Finland,” Timo Jaatinen, Director General of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, said in Lappeenranta on March 9, 2011.
“One-half of Finland’s prosperity is created by exports. The most significant challenges for Finland in the near future will involve the adoption of export-promoting industrial policies and the establishing of conditions that are conducive to sustainable economic growth,” Jaatinen noted at the opening of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s decision-maker seminar. “Successful industrial policies can create growth, boost exports and ensure that innovations are located in Finland.”
Resolute decision-making is needed to safeguard sustainable economic growth and strengthen the bioeconomy. The system for refunding energy taxes to energy-intensive industries needs to be reformed so that Finland can establish operating conditions, which are equal to those of our rival countries. The supply of reasonably priced electricity to the export sector must also be secured by ensuring that the profitability of already-decided nuclear power investments is not endangered through retroactively imposed additional costs.
The impact of the peat tax and subsidies for the energy utilisation of wood must be monitored and amended if they are found to be distorting the timber market; the Finnish Forest Industries Federation has submitted an initiative to the Government with regard to this issue. The effectiveness of wood production and the functionality of the timber market must also be improved. Wood is an ecological building material and as such should be used more often than is now the case.
It is important to ensure the effectiveness of transports by looking after the condition of the road and rail networks. The negative impacts that the decision to lower the sulphur content of sea transport fuels will have on Finnish export industries must be compensated. New regulations threaten to increase the forest industry’s transport costs by €200 million from the beginning of 2015 onwards.
Fast-acting decisions must be accompanied by the development of education and the promotion of fresh innovation. This will lead to the emergence of new business activities, such as biorefineries, and attract investments to Finland, thus securing future export revenues.
The average integrated pulp, paper and sawn timber production facility creates an economic footprint of almost €700 million, matching the annual budget of a city with a population of more than 100,000.
Some two-thirds of the production facility’s economic footprint remains within its home province. When the further processing of the paper and wood products that are manufactured at the facility is taken into account, the overall economic impact on surrounding society grows further still.
Timo Jaatinen, Director General, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6600
Finland is home to 50 pulp, paper and paperboard mills as well as more than 240 industrial-scale wood products companies that are frequently the most substantial local providers of manufacturing jobs.
Finland is the world’s sixth-largest producer of pulp, paper and paperboard in addition to being one of Europe’s largest producers of sawn timber.
The forest industry directly and indirectly employs almost 200,000 Finns. The industry’s multiplier effects extend broadly into surrounding society and up to 500,000 Finns are affected by the economic footprint of the forest-based sector. Finland has a unique opportunity to pioneer the bioeconomy thanks to its abundant forest resources and sustainable forestry practices as well as the first-rate expertise and competence of the forest cluster as a whole.