Pursiainen: Visa-free travel would benefit economic relations between Finland and Russia

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 11.4.2013 9.00
News item

The first seminar on Finnish commerce is being held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Permanent Secretary Harri Pursiainen addressed the seminar on behalf of the Finnish Government on 11 April 2013.

- For Finland, Russia constitutes a neighbouring market, and its political and economic developments have a direct impact on trade and transport between the countries and the transit traffic through them. The closer the cross-border relations between the countries are, the more Russians will become interested in Finnish services and the good connections between Finland and the rest of Europe, Pursiainen says.

- Visa-free travel would promote economic relations between the two countries. On both sides of the border, travellers crossing the border should be considered friends and paying customers rather than potential lawbreakers," Pursiainen emphasises.

There are more than 600 Finnish businesses established in Russia and total investment in Russia already exceeds 10 billion euros. Finnish companies employ more than 50,000 people in Russia.
Russia is Finland's largest trading partner and, after Sweden, Finland's largest export market. In 2012, trade between the countries totalled more than 16 billion euros, of which Finnish imports accounted for approximately a third and exports for two thirds. Last year, Finnish exports to Russia increased by 7 per cent.

Tourism is a major growth area. In 2011, 4.5 million Russian tourists visited Finland, leaving behind more than 1.2 billion euros. The economic growth and travelling boom in Russia are likely to continue. St. Petersburg and other parts of Russia attract Finnish tourists, too.

- In developing border crossings and transport, the focus is on Southeast Finland and the busiest border crossing points, which account for 90 per cent of road traffic between Finland and Russia. Smooth border traffic has significant benefits for transport and tourism, says Pursiainen.

- We are currently making some major improvements, such as building inspection areas and separate lanes for passenger and heavy vehicle transport at the Vaalimaa border crossing point. The project will be completed next year. Arrangements at the crossing points in Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala will also be improved. The projects are partly being funded by the neighbourhood programme between the European Union and Russia. I am happy to note that in its decision on spending limits, the Government granted the Finnish Border Guard additional resources, which are necessary for maintaining the current level of service as the volume of traffic increases, Pursiainen says.