Russia will overtake Germany as Finland's main trading partner, according to a prediction made yesterday by Pekka Sutela, the director of the Bank of Finland's Institute for Transition Economies. Sutela was speaking at a seminar organised by the Central Bank on the Russian economy. 'It is inevitable, there is no doubt about it, but I don't know when it will happen,' he said.
Sutela based his prediction on the rapid growth of the Russian economy, especially in the St. Petersburg area and in Karelia. 'As consumption grows, the share of imported goods also grows, and the steady strengthening of the rouble in real terms means that Russians' purchasing power is increasing,' he said. 'This market could grow by 20% a year, and if our exports to Russia don't grow at the same rate, we will be unfortunate.'
Last year Germany was the leading importer of Finnish goods. The UK was second on the list, followed by the US. Russia came fifth on the list last year. Finnish exports to Russia include machinery and equipment, chemical products, paper, packaging, and food products. Russian exports to Finland are mainly fuels and raw materials: oil, gas, timber and metals. Russia is the third largest exporter to Finland.