Russia is the only strongly growing economy in the vicinity of Finland. Furthermore, WTO membership and the related positive expectations add to the appeal of the country. The Finnish Commerce Federation showcases Finnish commerce extensively in the ”Russian client – Finnish commerce” seminar starting today in St. Petersburg.

“In particular, Finnish commerce is interested in Russia’s growing middle class. Finnish companies operating in commerce want to understand Russian clients even better and build deeper relationships with Russian suppliers, subcontractors and officials. With the Finnish Commerce Federation’s Russia seminar, we want to promote these goals,” says Maarit Toivanen-Koivisto, Vice Chairman of the Board of the Finnish Commerce Federation.  
The Russian tertiary sector is growing fast, and online commerce has also grown strongly in Russia. Russian tourists’ purchasing power in Finland is also growing significantly. According to a survey conducted by the Commerce Federation, 77 percent of Russians travelling to Finland are shopping tourists. Almost 80 percent of tourists are from the St. Petersburg region.
Russia’s WTO membership lays a good foundation for economic cooperation between Finland and Russia. The importance of the enormous market increases further if the opportunities for free travel increase between the two countries.
“The Finnish Commerce Federation considers deep cooperation between the EU and Russia and harmonisation of legislation to a sufficient extent desirable. Good cooperation between authorities is one of the preconditions for smooth commerce,” says Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
The Russian commerce group operating actively in the Finnish Commerce Federation monitors the effects of WTO membership in Russia as well as the development of customs practices and tariffs, for instance. The group includes Algol Chemicals, Bang & Bonsomer, Elektroskandia, Kesko, Lux, Onninen, SGN Group, SOK, Stockmann and Telko. 
“Our aim is the smooth movement of products, services and people. Flexible work permit practices, for example, would benefit the commerce of both countries. Steps in the right direction would include a shift towards multi-year visas and Russia abandoning the visa registration practice,” says Hannu Kyyhkynen, commercial policy specialist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.   
The aims of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, which came into force in 2010, have included harmonising the technical regulations concerning foreign trade, removing administrative obstacles to market access and making market control more effective. In spite of the varying practices still in existence, Hannu Kyyhkynen believes that the Customs Union will make commerce easier in the long run.
The Finnish Commerce Federation’s Russian client – Finnish commerce seminar will be arranged on 10–12 April in Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge, St. Petersburg. The programme of the seminar consists of presentations by an extensive range of commerce experts, suppliers and officials. In addition, there will be visits to companies, among other things. The partners of the event are DB Schenker, CTS Engtec, SOK, Matka-Vekka, Fazer, K-rauta and Prisma.