Interview with Mr. Tommi Mäkynen, Honorary Consul for Finland in Zuric
Liaison Manager of Finland Chamber of Commerce Anne Hatanpää interviewed Mr. Tommi Mäkynen, Honorary Consul for Finland in Zuric about trade relations and business opportunities. In many digital things, in many sectors, Finland has gained experience which could well be placed in the Swiss market.
Trade between Finland and Switzerland has developed positively during the last years. How do you see the development of our trade relations in the coming years?
I am optimistic in general, the relations are good and there is a natural sympathy and trust between the countries. Further, Team Finland is better resourced, more active and organised - it is doing a lot in promoting trade between the countries. At the same time both countries are relatively small with limited resources and small markets to offer - both countries seem to focus their limited internationalisation budgets on bigger markets. I am by no means a trade expert but I have the feeling that both countries are for each other a bit under the radar when it comes to trade and opening new markets. And that there would be more potential - given the sympathy - if individual actors are willing to push, seek opportunities and establish business relations themselves.
Which Finnish sectors of business would have demand in Switzerland from your point of view?
The things that come in to mind fast are: digitalisation, education, health andsustainability. Swiss are on the one hand keen on innovation but somewhat paradoxically also - from a Finnish perspective - a very tradition-loving country, whereas Finns are very curious and early-adopting as a culture. So, in many things digital, in many sectors, Finland has gained experience which could well be placed in the Swiss market. This need to digitalise many services - public or private - has become evident due to the pandemic here in Switzerland. It’s good moment to look at education or health-care but also elsewhere. But also sectors such as tourism, food and beverage or design have potential - the Swiss are very aware of quality and are willing to pay for it.
Many Finns travel to Switzerland – which places would you recommend them to visit in the future?
Switzerland offers a variety of culturally different regions, very “old” and special places and natural marvels (keyword: mountains). Even if tourism has a long tradition in Switzerland it’s today less developed than in the alpine regions of the neighbouring countries. Yet it is an easy country to travel, everything works and the distances are small. Cultural events are a lot here. I’d go to Basel for art - Art Basel Fair in June is great but any time there are incredible art museums in the city. In the summer you can do incredible (well marked) hikes and sleep in the catered mountain huts. For example Ticino is a beautiful and weather friendly region for this. Last summer our family found the region of Lake Geneva - beautiful lake, panoramic vineyards, tasty wines… And yes, skiing in the Alps is magnificent - my favourite region is Engadin.
Your personal relations to Finland – your business in Switzerland?
Helsinki is my hometown as much as Zurich is. My parents, my sister and a lot of my friends are there. If it wasn’t for Covid I’d be in Helsinki once a month for business - our second office is there. Also as a family we usually spend some weeks in the summer in Finland. We found our architecture and planning firm Helsinki Zürich Office simultaneously in Finland and in Switzerland some ten years back. We’re active in both markets and internationally. Currently I personally probably am more active in Switzerland than elsewhere. I’ve been in Zurich for fifteen years and we’re pretty well established in the scene.