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Arctic needs better transport infrastructure

5/24/2017 3:41 PM

Arctic Business Forum underscored the importance of Finland's role in developing arctic business cooperation.

The 8th Arctic Business Forum wrapped up on May 18, underscoring the importance of Finland’s role in developing Arctic business cooperation, as the country is taking over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

“Finland’s role is very important in the next two years as the chairman of the Arctic Council”, Lapland County Governor Mika Riipi told the two-day business conference. 

Organised by the Lapland Chamber of Commerce, the forum was held in Kemi this year.

The speakers put emphasis on development of transportation infrastructure in the European High North to meet the demands of the ongoing huge expansion of tourism in the region.

They also pointed out developing Arctic mining, steel and forest industries to meet the increased demands of export, besides positioning new icebreakers for regional business development. Moreover, the speakers presented their evaluations of the development of international Arctic business cooperation in the context of the current changing political situation.

Lapland Chamber of Commerce President Timo Rautajoki focused on the investment potential and distribution in different regions and industries in the European High North. There are sanctions on mining industry, hydro power, bio energy, and trade, he said, but there is also potential.

According to Port of Kemi Chief Executive Officer Jaakko Rantsi, Finland lacks clear vision and actions in transport network development. “Seaborne trade volume accounts for 80 percent of all transport tonnage in the world, most of which is loaded in China. So, the Arctic region has many possibilities for development.”

Transport and land use specialist Hanne Junnilainen termed aviation a volume business and the engine of economy. “The world’s trade and tourism industry always go hand in hand with air transportation. However, although normally it is the air transportation that drives tourism, in Lapland, the case is reverse. The tourism industry is booming in Lapland, but the lines are limited. More than 70 percent of the airports in the Arctic are owned by the states. All of these leave business potentials under-utilized”, he said.

Arctic Analyst Managing Partner Mikå Mered gave an overview of the business and investment needs and potential of this region. He said the total investment need in infrastructure of the Arctic area currently stands at around 1,000 billion US dollars.

A session of the forum on the concluding day focused on the latest investment projects in the European Arctic region including those in forestry, steel and mining industries, and transport connections with representatives from Russia and Iran taking part in the discussion.

Matti Nojonen, a professor of Chinese culture and society at the University of Lapland, discussed the Chinese business culture and challenges for Chinese economic expansion to the Arctic.

House of Lapland Chief Executive Officer Sanna Tarssanen shared some business success stories in the Arctic. In order to succeed, it is necessary to lower the seasonality, provide better logistics and connectivity, and stay sustainable, she said in conclusion.

Talking on the forum, Arctic Analyst Managing Partner Mikå Mered told the Daily Finland: “It has been a great meeting. We have many important Finnish Arctic thinkers who can decide the economic strategies in the Finnish Lapland region. They all presented their versions and opinions. It has been a great talking, maybe there should be more acting.”

City Rovaniemi- Daily Finland Report