Companies need predictability for investments and at the moment the
future is very hard to foretell. The global economic crisis still
affects the business investments. The ongoing international crisis in
Ukraine does not make business between Russia and the West any easier.
“No one is late from Arctic business. The investment decisions are
postponed until the world's economy is more predictable”, said Mr. Timo
Rautajoki, CEO of the Lapland Chamber of Commerce, at the Arctic
Business Forum in Rovaniemi in March 2014.
The fifth Arctic Business Forum attracted about 250 people
from all over the Barents region as well as from many European and North
American countries to join the discussion about the business
opportunities, challenges and innovations in the context of Arctic
Business. See the whole program HERE.
When talking about the business in the Arctic, the expression “from Arctic to Arctic” was repeated several times. Knowhow and snowhow in the region seem to be good. Old projects are running well but new ones are still waiting or even being turned down. Huge investments loom in northern Norway, Murmansk, Norrbotten, Oulu and Kainuu region even if the troubled Talvivaara mine has not so much hope.
Among projects on the waiting list are next big offshore investments in Norway and Russia. Climate is warming, ice is diminishing, but conditions in the Arctic are not becoming so much better. Packed ice and unpredictable weather challenge the development of the Northern Sea Route. When aiming to developing extractive industries in the Arctic regions, stable regulations by the states are needed.
At the Arctic Business Forum the Lapland Chamber of Commerce launched the sixth economic report of the European High North, named Arctic Business Forum Yearbook 2014. The book includes information about the latest developments affecting the business in the region.
The Yearbook recounts that many Finnish companies are interested in cooperation with other actors in order to enter the markets in other countries of the Barents region. One good example is the Arctic Team Finland proposed by the Finnish sea cluster. Challenges for Finnish companies seem to be the lack of information about the markets, the lack of investors and the reluctance of the state to invest in business in the North.
The electronic version of the Arctic Business Forum yearbook 2014 is here: ABF2014_YEARBOOK.pdf.
In the discussion about the new Arctic transport routes, Mr. Torbjörn Naimak ( Regional Roads Director, Norwegian Public Roads Administration) pointed out that the recent Joint Barents Transport Plan has an impact also for the planning on the national level. The Finnish BEAC Chair project officer Leena Saarikoski credited Norway when commenting in Twitter (@FIN_BEAC_chair) that the excellent Norwegian Barents transport work is now followed by Finland. She also wrote aptly that "the accessibility of the region is a precondition for dynamic economic development and mobility in the Barents region".
The conference got a living example when one of the participants, Market Director for the Arctic and head of Ramboll in Northern Norway, Nils Arne Johnsen missed the Arctic Business Forum because of two avalanches that hit the road between Tromsø and Finland and blocked the road for one day. Read the whole story in his blog.
Next year the Arctic Business Forum is held again in spring 2015 in Rovaniemi.
Text by Jenni Lintula / Arctic Centre
Photos by Arctic Business Forum / Hayden Lloyd Photography
Mr. Matti Anttonen, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign
Affairs of Finland highlighted the importance of the Barents Euro
Arctic Council in this part of the Arctic.