The opening of Paroc’s factory, Tver, Russia

Your Excellency Prime Minister Medvedev,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have the great pleasure of celebrating with you the opening of Paroc’s factory in Tver. This factory is another great example of the willingness of Finnish companies to become more international and of the appeal of Russia as a business environment for Finnish companies.

Russia has always been an important neighbour of Finland. Our neighbourly relations are not only geographic – our history and culture bind our countries together in many ways.

Russia is a permanent partner with whom Finland wants to have a tight partnership. The growth potential of our cooperation is considerable. In 2012, Russia was Finland’s second largest export partner and largest import partner.

We are doing important work through the intergovernmental economic commission of the Finnish and Russian governments to remove obstacles to investments and to improve connections between companies and the business operating environment. This and other close cooperation between our governments have contributed to making it possible for us to be celebrating the opening of this factory today.

There are already around 600 Finnish companies operating in Russia, providing employment to an estimated 50 000 persons. In addition, they create local business by using subcontractors and by purchasing services.

The growth of travel has been promoted by the fact that Finland has been at the forefront of Schengen countries in developing its visa policies. We have been able to raise our service level with increasing demand and to issue visas in a flexible and efficient way. Any exemption from visa requirements would probably further increase travel and cooperation between our countries and would improve the operational preconditions of the business sector.

However, we must immediately start paying close attention to the ease of border crossings – in other words, the development of transport and border infrastructure on both sides of the border.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It has been positive that the Russian government has paid so much attention to improving the investment environment. In the World Bank’s Doing Business report for 2013, Russia’s ranking has improved 20 places. President Putin’s objective has been to bring Russia to the top 20. This ambitious work is sure to attract an ever-increasing number of Finnish companies to Russia, even though much work remains to be done.

Paroc’s investment is a good example of what can be achieved by creating a positive atmosphere. Finnish companies bring not only investments to Russia but also their know-how and corporate culture. However, investments are not just a one-way street. We warmly welcome Russian investments to Finland. And I am happy to note that this has already happened.

As a great example of Russian investments, I can mention the construction of the data centre of Yandex in Finland.

Finland offers Russian investors a stable and innovative operating environment, a ready infrastructure, an opportunity to obtain funding, and human capital.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Pragmatic economic cooperation, the way companies are able to operate and grow on both sides of the border, benefits both companies and citizens in our two countries. Paroc’s factory in Tver will be a significant employer in the region.

It will also create a foothold for other Finnish companies here in Tver, an area with which we Finns already have close ties, thanks to the Tver Karelians, our distant relatives.

Paroc’s factory is an excellent example of internationalisation, investment and innovation, for which I would like to congratulate all the people who have participated in the project. It gives me great pleasure to be able to share this moment with you and see the success of this great project. I wish all of you every success in the future!


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