Regional Mayors Risto Poutiainen (North Karelia), Pentti Malinen (Kainuu) and Pauli Harju (Oulu Region), Deputy Minister for Economic Development of the Republic of Karelia Dmitry Kislov and members of Euregio Karelia secretariat visited the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in Finland Mr. Valery Shlyamin 5th of April 2106.
Mr. Valery Shlyamin has been working in the Trade Representation since 2003. The expert of Finnish-Russian trade relations is also one of the founders of Euregio Karelia. Before his post in Finland, he has worked closely on Finnish-Russian cooperation for instance as a Minister of External Relations and Minister of Economic Development of the Republic of Karelia. How does Mr. Shlyamin see Euregio Karelia from his current position?
“When Euregio Karelia was founded, Finnish and Russian actors wanted to see what we can achieve by developing close and neighborly relations”, Shlyamin said. He notes that idea of cross border cooperation in Euregio Karelia cannot be reduced to economic indicators, but is fundamentally about interaction between people and cultures of the region. As a regional forum, Euregio Karelia enables coordination of development plans on several levels and finding common interests. New forms of cooperation are also called in for in the changing world: instead of traditional door-to-door trading, we are now talking about modern business.
Trade between Finland and Russia has been faced with challenges in the recent years. Financial difficulties and sanctions have hit hard especially export markets for certain sectors. Nevertheless, the will for cooperation remains strong. According to Shlyamin, Russians are, among other things, very interested in technological partnership with Finnish companies. Hi-tech is a fast-growing sector in Russia, and opportunities for cooperation are found for example in pharmaceutical industry, chemistry and ICT. In Bloomberg Innovation Index Russia and Finland ranked 12th and 7th respectively.
Currently, economically important sectors of cooperation are for instance arctic technology, shipbuilding and energy. For increasing economic cooperation, further development of new business infrastructure is important.