Finland attaches high importance to the China International Import Expo (CIIE), and expects more business opportunities and further bilateral cooperation through the expo, high-ranking Finnish officials told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
During her first visit to China since taking office, Finland's Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sari Essayah said she is impressed by the expo involving so many countries, and is proud of the Finnish pavilion comprising 17 companies, highlighting lactose-free dairy products as a typical specialty.
"This trip is very important for me personally and also for my government. We have high expectations that we will have good trade relations with China," she said.
In the view of Jaana Husu-Kallio, permanent secretary of Finland's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, China has sent a "very clear" signal to global businesses that the country's openness has further widened.
"What is very important for Finland is that China is willing to cooperate with any country, not depending on the size of the country, and that is important for a small country like Finland," she said, stressing that global trade and win-win cooperation are the keywords of the CIIE.
She said that China and Finland share the same target of achieving sustainability in various fields, which offers vast cooperation potential for the two countries on bilateral and multilateral fronts.
"It means that we can increase bilateral cooperation. We can involve our companies more and more to work together towards that," said the permanent secretary.
Trade and economic cooperation between China and Finland has been developing for 70 years since 1953, when the two countries signed an intergovernmental trade and payment agreement, which was the first intergovernmental trade agreement between China and a Western country.
In this regard, Finnish Ambassador to China Leena-Kaisa Mikkola said there's been a strong basis for cooperation in the fields of economy and trade since 70 years ago when the two sides signed their first trade agreement.
"Since China's opening up, many Finnish companies have established their presence here. I'm still here and keen on succeeding in the Chinese market," she said.
Thanks to the strong complementarity between the two economies, two-way trade has been constantly growing. For years, China has been Finland's largest trading partner in Asia. In 2022, bilateral trade reached 9.83 billion U.S. dollars, up 7.6 percent year on year, according to China's General Administration of Customs.
She mentioned that the world and China itself have benefited from the country's continuous opening up and its entry into the World Trade Organization.
"I would say that in today's world, China's continuing opening up is extremely important for the world, for Finland, and also for China itself," she noted. "It is also important that there is a fair and good basis for foreign companies to come to China and have a presence here."
Looking into the future, there are multiple new possibilities for bilateral cooperation, the ambassador said. "When it comes to green transition, carbon reduction, health, and also consumer products that we have been discussing in the CIIE, there are plenty of opportunities for our two countries."
For her part, Consul General of Finland in Shanghai Anu Vuori-Kiikeri pointed out that the Finnish presence at the CIIE "shows the commitment of Finland and our companies to the Chinese market."
These companies, with high-quality products and advanced technologies, are very committed to sustainability and seeking visibility in China, the official said.
She stressed that the expo is a place that must not be missed by Finnish businesses.
- Finnish officials