Greetings from the Ambassador and the Chairman of the FBCB Board

Greetings from the Ambassador and the Chairman of the FBCB Board

Dear Members of the Finnish Business Council Beijing,

At the outset of a new year, it is a great pleasure for me to greet the members of the Finnish Business Council in Beijing! I wish you all and your families a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Year of 2021!

We all know that 2020 was a unique and challenging year, forcing most people to adapt to new realities in their private lives. It has also been a difficult year for businesses in a variety of industries. I would like to thank the members of the Finnish Business Council in Beijing for the good cooperation we enjoyed in 2020 despite the difficult circumstances. The Council is one of the closest partners of the Embassy when it comes to promoting Finnish business interests in China. Together with the other members of the Team Finland China network, we are doing our utmost to ensure that Finnish companies are given the best possible circumstances for making the most of the opportunities in the Chinese markets also in 2021.

Despite the situation, we have not stood idle over the past twelve months, or so. Our focus at the Embassy has been on taking care of the Finnish citizens, and their needs, but also on interacting with Finnish companies involved with China. We have shared information about the situation through reporting and through webinars, for example. I want to thank our partners in all these efforts.

Team Finland cooperation has been an integral part of our work during this period as well. During the more quiet months of the first half of 2020, we had a good opportunity to fine-tune our internal processes and move to the next level in our cooperation by better planning, better information sharing and more active collaboration.

Because of the well thought out preparatory work, we were ready to move to the field during the latter part of the year - as soon as the situation and the travel restrictions permitted. During these months, we were able to participate in expos and other events, do provincial visits, and also work more directly with companies. Sometimes these activities had a record level of participation by Finnish companies. More often than not we were the first foreign delegation to be welcomed by the local authorities since the pandemic started. This work has now laid the foundation for our activities in 2021, and beyond. Together we have to identify what kind of follow up measures we need to take and what kind of concepts we should use in order to make the most of the situation.

I want to be optimistic about the future. Although it may be difficult to envision at this time, one day the pandemic will be behind us. When it comes to economy, recovery is already well underway in China. In fact, economic recovery might not be a proper term to describe China’s economic development, as in China’s case the pandemic caused something more like a stagnation than a recession. China pulled further ahead of other major economies during the year, reinforcing expectations of healthy growth in 2021. However, the challenges that we still face globally, are immense.

In 2020, we also marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Finland and the People’s Republic of China. For decades, trade has constituted a key driver of our bilateral relationship. We remember that in 1953, Finland became the first Western country to sign an intergovernmental trade agreement with China. As I have said many times lately, despite the COVID-19 crisis, some basic things have not changed, and will not change. One of them is that Finland will remain a good and trustworthy partner for China also in years to come.

 

Jarno Syrjälä
Ambassador of Finland to China

Dear FBCB Members,

Finnish Business Council Beijing is an association by Finnish companies for Finnish companies in the Greater China Area. Our aim is to provide a platform for experience and knowledge sharing as well as networking for Finnish companies to overcome the hurdles of the China market. Whether you are considering the Chinese market, just starting your business in China or have already operated here for years, do not hesitate to contact us!

The year of the Rat in Chinese traditions is often characterized as a challenging one. And for 2020, that is an understatement. Here in China business was on hold or conducted under new rules for the first half of the year, it was not until the Autumn that things returned even close to normal. And still, many restrictions remain at the beginning of 2021.  While the year left severe scars for many companies, some managed to succeed and grow, especially in China. But it also resulted in perhaps permanent changes in the way we do business. Surely teleconferencing is one of the best examples. It has become an accepted way of holding all kinds of meetings which will continue to reduce the need for travel. But what lies ahead, according to the Chinese traditions the year of the Ox should signify more stable conditions and better wealth. Thus, let’s hope the Zodiac is correct again!

Surely 2020 was a year many of us would want to forget. Looking at the year ahead in business many are expecting it to be much better. According to the Business Confidence Survey by FBCs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong as well as FinnCham HK conducted at the end of 2020 business prospects for 2021 in China look modestly optimistic for Finnish companies. Almost 60% of respondents are expecting a growth from China business profits. This is resonated with almost 30% of respondents forecasting an increase in hiring more local employees. Looking at globally, similar optimism is shown in the December edition of Economic Conditions Snapshot McKinsey Global Survey on Executives (Economic Conditions Snapshot, December 2020: McKinsey Global Survey results). While Covid-19 was still seen as the number one risk for business in 2021, for the first time during 2020 the respondents were more likely to report improvements than declines in economic conditions. Over 60% saw their respective countries’ economies to be better six months ahead, while 68% expected economic growth compared to 24% forecasting decline during the same time period. When it comes to their own companies, global executives were also increasingly optimistic. This could be seen in the prediction of increase in workforce, 34% of respondents were planning an increase in their company’s workforce, a higher share than even in March 2020 (23%) when the seriousness of the pandemic was unclear. It might be basic human nature or just the fact of how bad the year 2020 was for of us that I personally tend to share the optimism in these surveys for 2021. 

While in January 2021 the pandemic is still going strong, the news at the very end of 2020 with vaccinations starting globally are a promise of a better future. Regardless, we will move on and I truly hope 2021 will be a whole lot better for all of us!

 

Sincerely Yours. on behalf of FBCB

Juha Tuominen
Chairman of the Board