Finnish Business Discouraged by Corruption

In an interview with Jakarta Post journalist Mustaqim Adamrah, Finnish Ambassador Kai Sauer says that Finnish businesspeople are often discouraged by the country’s corrupt image and lack of transparency in regulations. Kai Sauer to has served as Head of the Finnish Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, since 1 September 2010.


“I think the regulatory framework could be clearer and more transparent. Of course, corruption is a problem that should be mentioned. Although there seems to be a good commitment from the Indonesian government to root it out, it will take time,”Kai Sauer says.


But he doesn’t believe you can just take the Finnish model and ranslant it to Indonesia.


“You can’t take the Finnish model and plant it into Indonesia because these two countries are so different. I think one of the reasons Finland is clean of corruption is the small society — we are only 5.3 million people. We have a very transparent administrative culture. We are obliged by law to be open toward the citizens. Basically, when a Finnish citizen comes to my door and asks for a document, I have to show him the document, for example.


What are the things that both sides need to further develop in bilateral relations?


“In trade, I think Finnish companies should come back to Indonesia. Now they’re very much focusing on India and China. But Indonesia has to work as well … the perception of Indonesia has to improve because of a little bit of an image problem — very difficult regulatory, environment and corruption. It takes a lot of effort and work, but the benefit and the revenue can be quite high as well


To do business in Indonesia, connections is impotant, Kai Sauers says.


“First of all, I think you have to look for partners within the government. Not only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are interacting with other ministries, the Ministry of Trade, Economy, Forestry, Agriculture, you name it.”


“We have a good history that relations between Finland and Indonesia have been very strong. President SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) was in Finland in 2006. Our President Tarja Halonen was in Indonesia in 2008. And this year we had the Finnish prime minister visiting Jakarta. We have a very strong political relationship, and this, of course, is also a good platform for business relations.


“There are a few big Finnish companies in Indonesia, like Nokia — the most sold phone in Indonesia. Then we have another company — Wartsila. This is strong in the energy sector. Another company which could be highlighted is Nestle Oil, which is interested in the Indonesian palm oil market.


“We have certain sectors that can be interesting for Indonesia, like clean technology, because Indonesia is developing its eastern part, (while) infrastructure and housing are booming.”


“Another strong sector I could highlight is education. The teachers … irrespective of whether they’re elementary school teachers or higher grade teachers, have master’s degrees.”


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