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News 18.12.2020

Finland shows resourcefulness and resilience on the Covid marathon

Juho Kuva, Visit Finland

Finland – a Covid Champion? The latest maps published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) suggest that Finland is top of the class in Covid-19 prevention.

The COVID Economic Recovery Index (CERI) confirms Finland’s strong showing, placing Finland number one in its ranking of 122 countries. CERI has three equally weighted pillars – Absorptive Capacity, Economic Agility and Health Resilience – with Finland performing impressively in each one.

Norway, Germany and Switzerland serve as the runner-ups in the index. CERI notes that these countries combine world class governance with high levels of social capital and high social resilience. In addition, all of them have strong financial systems, manageable debt levels and good health system resilience.

According to CERI, Finland’s top spot reflects the country’s high economic resilience mainly due to its excellent governance and highly educated workforce. Finland also boasts a resilient financial system and high level of health resilience due to strong health system capacity and pandemic preparedness.

Miracle of the North

So the quiet people of the North are at it again, manufacturing a miracle when nobody is watching? – It certainly seems that way. Finns have done what they always do – work diligently and responsibly to make things better.

“Not only has the Finnish economy been able to absorb the negative impact of Covid-19 admirably, but I believe also that companies here will be able to bounce back remarkably fast,” says Antti Aumo, Executive Director of Invest in Finland.   

This “gray grind” has shown convincing results as also the EU Commission predicts Finland’s economy to take only a minor hit: Finland is estimated to be the third best “survivor” economically. The Commission predicts Finland’s economy to contract by 4,3 % this year and to grow 2.9% in 2021, while the euro area economy is expected to contract by 7.8% this year.

Industries Find Their Way

As Finnish Business Confidence Indicators were released on 27th of November, it became clear that the situation is somber but stable, with e.g. the manufacturing confidence indicator increasing one point from October’s figure and the service sector confidence indicator staying exactly the same.

And, as it turns out, in this crisis – as in all crises – there are industries that manage to cope and even thrive. In Finland, good news have rung out from health tech, IT and logistics to name just a few sectors showing remarkable grace under fire.

Just look at health sector where a couple of international companies are making strong moves: PerkinElmer is ramping up production in Finland to meet the Covid testing need, while Bayer is expanding its production lines in Finland as well.

“Safe Haven” Approach

While things are still tough, many foreign-owned companies have expressed a view that when it comes to weathering this storm, there’s no place where they’d rather be than Finland. For example, as the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK surveyed the top international business leaders living in Finland about Covid last summer, the execs were very pleased with the way Finland has handled the crisis.

What’s more, one third of respondents believed that the Covid-19 crisis will have a significant impact on getting foreign talent to Finland in the future, too. Finland’s unique selling points in a post-Covid world are a safe environment and a highly organized and digitalized society, the survey revealed. 

Call for Unity

The fortitude of the Finnish leadership has not gone unnoticed amidst all this, either. Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, writing in Politico in November, declares that “the only way to save our economy is by defeating the virus” and that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is putting serious strain on health care systems across Europe. Emerging as one of the more proactive European leaders in the crisis, Marin notes that Europe cannot afford a long-term economic recession with the resulting bankruptcies and rise in unemployment.

The no-nonsense, problem-solving approach of the Prime Minister also earned her a spot on the BBC’s brand new list of TOP100 most “inspiring and influential” women of 2020. In a profile of Marin, the UK public broadcaster praises Finland for how it has dealt with the coronavirus crisis under Marin’s leadership.

What Happens Next?

The COVID Economic Recovery Index maintains that it is “increasingly clear” that the economic fallout of the pandemic and its impact on future growth paths will differ significantly across countries.

The report says that workforce adaptability, highly digitalized economies, governance, and social capital, as well as well functioning financial systems are key to recovery, if there’s anything to learn from the top performing countries of the Index. These are also the very same reasons that the international companies cite for having established operations in Finland.

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