The report on the future that was prepared by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment includes 38 development proposals that aim to promote the reform of Finnish commerce and to enhance its competitive strength. The proposals are focused on international development work, resourcing, and international advocacy.
“It is wonderful that such a comprehensive report on the opportunities and challenges of the future has been completed. The purpose of the report is to provide decision-makers with information about the commerce sector so that the sector can be developed in a sustained manner,” says Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
Developing the commerce sector is important so that the sector, which is the largest employer in Finland and which with its cascade effect produces 18 per cent of the GDP, will remain successful in the future and will be able to provide comprehensive services everywhere in the country.
Attention must be paid to equal competition conditions
The report recognises that the sector faces tough international competition. The competition is distorted by the fact that Finnish online stores and competitors such as Asian online stores and global online platforms are on an inequal footing. The competitors are able to utilise the lighter regulation of their domestic markets as a competitive advantage.
“Therefore, it is important that Finland participates in active advocacy so that competitors such as Asian online stores and global online platforms are brought under the same recycling, product safety and consumer protection obligations, as proposed in the report,” Kiviniemi emphasises.
RDI investments accelerate internationalisation, digital leap and competence
Digitalisation, changes in consumer behaviour, growing e-commerce, global trade and the multichannel nature of commerce change the commerce sector. In order to survive the change, the report proposes significant investments in the research and development work of the commerce sector and in the education and training for the sector.
In the report, the Finnish Commerce Federation supports increasing the intensity of the research, development and innovation operations of the commerce sector. The future success of the sector requires investments in internationality, digital leap and enhancing competence in the sector.
“It is crucial to ensure that the programmes and funding of Business Finland support the needs of the sector. The current e-commerce operations of Business Finland are in danger of ending, which would impede the opportunities of a commercial company developing its online store,” says Simo Hiilamo, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
Commerce sector companies that operate in Finland via e-commerce can reach consumers anywhere in the world. The report proposes actions that would boost the growth and internationalisation of online stores.
At the moment, the shortage of professionals with competence in digital commerce is a significant obstacle for the growth of commerce.
“Issues related to competent professionals are well presented in the report, as is the facilitation of labour immigration. However, a key measure is ensuring the continuity and availability of digital commerce education, in both upper secondary vocational education and higher education,” Hiilamo continues.
Better services and local vitality through reformed regulation
The report highlights the role that commerce has in local vitality and security of supply. Local attraction and engagement is largely built on the availability of services. Therefore, the proposal in the report to enhance the role of commerce as the centres of diverse services in sparsely populated areas is important.
According to the research of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the trade in services is regulated more in Finland than the average. The organisation has recommended that Finland consider dismantling the restrictions affecting the trade in services.
“For the commerce sector, the regulation concerning city planning and the retail supply of alcohol and medicine, in particular, requires reforming. In this way, we can guarantee better and more accessible services for consumers everywhere in the country,” Kiviniemi says.
“In this regard, the Finnish Commerce Federation would have liked the report to have a bolder approach. Free competition that follows uniform rules benefits both the consumers and the entire society,” Kiviniemi adds.
Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 50 511 3189, email@example.com
Simo Hiilamo, Director, Public Policy and Advocacy, Finnish Commerce Federation, +358 (0)50 350 7564, firstname.lastname@example.org