From 2010, Finland is very likely going to have an official Chamber of Commerce. The paperwork was submitted to the Chinese authorities in June 2009 by the already formed board of the Chamber and today, it is just a matter of time, before the Chamber is awarded official status in China.
“More and more Finnish businesses are coming to China and the need for a chamber has been growing,” the coming Chairman, Richard Järvinen, says.
Up till now the Finnish Business Council, of which Järvinen serves as Chairman for the Beijing chapter, has been taking care of the responsibilities that usually lay in a Chamber.
“It has been working very well so far. But now we need to take the next step further,” he explains.
Cannot grow without a Chamber
It’s been 60 years, since Finland’s first ambassador to China, Helge Von Knorring, met with Chairman Mao and sealed the diplomatic relations in between the two countries in 1950. Since then, Finland has been an expanding presence in China with a large influence on especially innovation and technology.
In the 1990s, the Finnish Business Council was established as a networking platform, and as the number of Finnish citizens has been increasing, so has the work of the council.
“But we cannot grow, if we do not have a Chamber. We cannot recruit people properly and we do not have the formal access to negotiate with the Chinese government,” he says.
These things are going to be the responsibility of the new chamber. In addition, Järvinen is hoping to create a hub for the about 200 companies doing business in China.
“We will work to support the communications in between Finnish companies, and arrange different events for the community,” he says.
He describes the Chinese-Finnish relations today as warm and good and this is another reason to set up a chamber.
“Hopefully, the Chamber can be a bridge in between Finland and China,” he says.
Hoping to enhance Nordic bonds
Another – yet unofficial – quest for the new Chamber is to enhance the bonds in between the Scandinavians in China. It is Järvinen’s hope that this will contribute to tighter and more frequent collaboration in between the Nordic countries.
“The Scandinavian countries are all small, and none have too many resources to waste. If we could do some investments together instead if separate, I think that would really help our business. And it would be very practical,” he says.
He points out that there are already a number of Scandinavian collaborations and cross-Scandinavian events in China.
“I would like to have more of those in the future,” he says.
All left is the paperwork
Allthough it has been over a year, since the application for official status was sent, it is not certain when it will go through.
A careful guess from Järvinen is about May this year, but there are still several documents that need the correct signature and it is unpredictable, when it may happen.
However, in practical terms, the Chamber is basically functioning, but under the Finnish Business Council brand. Acting board has been appointed, a website set up – www.finchamchina.org – and discussions of the future for Finland are lively.
For Richard Järvinen, it is going to be a relief, once all the preparations materialize into a Finnish Chamber of Commerce.
“It is the right time now. We certainly have been here a long time,” he says.
Read also: Richard Järvinen: Dialogue the Keyword