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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 2, 2009
Finland in Poland
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Scandinavian Values
December 2, 2009   
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Anitta Koskio, Chair of the Finnish Trade Guild and Vice Chair of the Scandinavian-Polish Chamber of Commerce (SPCC), talks with Hilary Heuler.

So what is the Finnish Trade Guild?
In 2004, all the Scandinavian national sections merged in order to wield more power-that was how the Scandinavian-Polish Chamber of Commerce (SPCC) was established. The Finnish Trade Guild is one of these national sections, and is under the umbrella of the SPCC. There are over 300 members and four countries represented in the SPCC-Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, and we now have one Icelandic company as well. In the Finnish Trade Guild we have 47 companies. The Chamber's goals and activities are targeted toward enhancing Scandinavian business in Poland, and it's more or less the same in the national sections. In the Finnish Trade Guild we work to integrate Poles and Finns both on a social level and, of course, in terms of business. We work more on the social aspect of integration and the Chamber focuses more on the business side, but you can't really separate these things so clearly. Companies should keep in mind that it's important to acquire knowledge about the local culture and business culture when coming into a foreign country, and also to invest in human capital and not only in technical installations.

What kinds of services do you provide for your members?
The Chamber provides very informational meetings, business mixers, professional events, meetings with politicians, and so on. At the Finnish Trade Guild, we organize social events for our members. We also organize visits to companies, round-table discussions-discussing Finnish-Polish cooperation, for instance-but we are more focused on the social side. This enables people to get to know each other better, and that in turn enhances business relations.

Right now we're preparing for the annual general meeting in January, asking members what they think about the activities we've had and brainstorming for 2010. Our biggest event is Finnish Summer Picnic and together with the Chamber we organize the annual crayfish party. It's not that easy to get crayfish in Poland-ours come from Finland, and at this year's party we had 130 people and around 1,500 crayfish, all prepared properly for us. Crayfish parties are part of the Swedish and Finnish tradition, which we like to introduce to the Poles as well. We also promote Scandinavian values, both in the Chamber and in the national sections-values like openness, accountability, a high level of trust and integrity.

In your view, how satisfied are Finnish investors with Polish conditions?
Finnish investors are generally happy with their business here. Poland is a central place, for example in terms of logistics. This is a big market, and a lot of investors extend their activities from here to neighboring countries. Plus salaries here are still pretty reasonable, and the work force is well educated.

On the other hand, there are also some barriers to doing business: the legislation is changing very quickly and can be hard to implement, and the bureaucracy and infrastructure in Poland are challenging. Now with the financial crisis, many companies in Finland consider carefully whether they want to invest to Poland, but some of those that have already invested are actually thinking of expanding their investments. Finnish companies are definitely still interested in Poland.
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