In the beginning of November, the Indian External Affairs Ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry organised the India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave. The stated aims of the conclave were to foster innovation-driven partnerships between India and Indian companies and Nordic and Baltic states and their companies. The conclave was split into five sessions, each dealing with pressing modern issues such as digitalisation, 5g networks, AI, futureproofing manufacturing, and renewables. Speakers included foreign and trade ministers, business leaders and scientists.
Minister for Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade Skinnari’s speech focused on three themes 1) enhancing India-Nordic-Baltic co-operation, 2) the notable benefits of digital co-operation between Finland and India, and 3) the importance of a stable and predictable investment environment for sustainable economic development. Finno-Indian economic relations are characterised by high tech investments and trade. Minister Skinnari pointed out that whilst Finland has been a world leader in communications technologies since the 1980s, India was now a world leader and investment in this field and other tech fields needed to take place on a two-way street. Indian investments in Finland are more important than ever and good co-operation between the two countries is of paramount importance to secure and attract investors and investments, both from India to Finland and vice versa.
The economic relations between Finland and India are characterised by untapped potential; Finland is not a well-known market in India and India is not well known in Finland. The countries are however both world leaders in digital economies and co-operation between the two countries in both the public and private sectors would serve to enhance the position of both on the world stage. The type of event which the conclave represents is a natural springboard for further discussions, which could lead to more investments, trade, and business co-operation.
Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s speech noted the enhancement of trade and investment relations between the various countries, even though some room for growth still exists. India needs support from its foreign partners in the themes of the conclave, for the country to develop into a greener, smarter, and more digital direction. The foreign minister noted that the Nordic and Baltic countries are good partners for India thanks to their high levels of education and innovation and thanks to the shared values between India and the other countries.
The conclave was a good opportunity for Finland on the ministerial level and for FIBA to represent the Finnish market to the more than 800 attendees, 90 % of which were Indian. Such an event does not come often and with the goal in mind of making Finland better known in untapped markets, the event presented an excellent opportunity for Indian businesses to get to know Finland better as a market. Participation, therefore, was a very good idea, both on the part of the Finnish government and of FIBA.
The event was not necessarily of great importance to businesses as a platform to grow sales or to enhance market access in the concerned regions, but it did provide a good opportunity for companies to connect with new partners and strengthen their earlier connections during the difficulties posed by the pandemic. The event also provided some good PR for Baltic and Nordic countries in India, which is currently seeking to enhance its partnerships in the west.
Intern at Finland Chamber of Commerce, in Helsinki, from September to December 2020