Distinguished guest from Spain visited the Port of Turku
Fernando Fernández-Arias Minuesa, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain in Finland, visited Turku on 8 February. The visit was hosted by Jussi Hakala who acts as the honorary consul of Spain in Turku and is also a member of the Board of Directors of Port of Turku.
The visit in the port became a natural part of the Ambassador’s programme which also included, for instance, meeting Spanish students at the University of Turku.
Potential for growth in trade between the countries
Topics discussed during the visit included, for example, trade between Finland and Spain and the flow of goods between the countries.
“At present, the value of trade between Finland and Spain stands at around 1.5 billion euros in both directions. The trade balance has been fairly stable, varying to some degree in different years. The pandemic in the last few years and the Russian invasion of Ukraine that started a year ago have decreased the trade volume, but there is potential for increasing the trade”, Ambassador Fernández-Arias Minuesa says.
Key import articles from Spain to Finland include industrial machinery, cars and foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Finland’s exports to Spain mainly comprise of electronics products as well as paper and forestry industry products. The majority of the goods transports between the countries is carried by truck through Europe, arriving in Finland via Stockholm of Travemünde. The Port of Turku has good connections to both, which makes it a competitive route also for Spanish trade.
”Start-up companies in particular play an important role in creating new growth. Finland has evolved into a strong start-up base, and Spain is following closely. In the recent Slush start-up event, there were around 60 Spanish participants, some of which also had as partners Finnish entrepreneurs living in Spain. The EU’s common market and common currency are factors that support the conditions for both new and traditional business operations to function and succeed cross borders.”
Passenger volumes increasing after the pandemic
The role of services in the trade between the countries is growing. E.g. tourism is returning to its normal level after the pandemic, not just from Finland to Spain. The number of Spanish tourists in Finland has also been on the rise in Finland for years and the trend still continues, which may also benefit the City of Turku and the port.
“Turku is a growing and developing city with an attractive pull generated by its long history. The city is also well-known thanks to the year as the European Capital of Culture in 2011. The competition for tourists is fierce, however, and people are above all looking for new experiences, something different. Reaching tourists requires identifying your own attraction factors that differ from others, and marketing them efficiently”, the Ambassador says.
The new passenger terminal in the Port of Turku is viewed as a significant upgrade in terms of tourism by Ambassador Fernando Fernández-Arias Minuesa.
“The new terminal will make Turku more attractive both for tourists arriving in Finland by ship and tourists already in the country. It is an easy way to take, for example, a 24-hour or one-day cruise in the unique archipelago which covers nearly the entire route between Turku and Stockholm. The reforms in the Turku Castle area located near the port will also increase the thriving of passengers by linking the port seamlessly to the city-centre.”
Spain emphasises the importance of co-operation in the European Union
According to Fernando Fernández-Arias Minuesa, Finland and Spain have common goals in the EU for strengthening the whole of Europe. As Spain will start its six-month EU Presidency in July, one of the key issues is the promotion of the green transition, one element of which is the development of the transport networks in Europe. Other issues for the upcoming EU Presidency mentioned by the Ambassador are strengthening the self-sufficiency of Europe, and improving the competitiveness of industry against low-cost production coming from other continents. He believes that the solution for the global situation shadowed by various crises is offered by European unanimity.
“Right now we need to be more European and more uniform than ever.”
Text: Kari Ahonen Photos: Jarmo Piironen and Annika Schulman