For the fifth time, the entrepreneurs of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) have recognised Finnish diplomats who have helped Finnish companies succeed in demanding export markets. Ambassador Awards will be granted to Markku Keinänen, Head of Mission to the Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU and Anu-Eerika Viljanen, Finland’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Team Finland in the United States, led by Ambassador Mikko Hautala, has been granted the team award.
The entrepreneurs of EK would like to thank the first-rate professionals at Finnish missions around the world. “All the recipients of the Ambassador Awards have in common a business-oriented approach and active dialogue with business and industry,” say Tuomas Pere (Pintos Oy), Chair of EK’s Delegation for Entrepreneurship, and Bengt Westerholm (Beweship Oy), Chair of the Internationalisation and Reform Group.
“The role of ambassadors and the entire Team Finland network as partners to SMEs is further highlighted as exports are becoming more complicated because of higher geopolitical tensions and weaker growth expectations for the global economy. On the other hand, new opportunities are arising for SMEs as global customers diversify their supply chains and seek new subcontractors in Western countries. In terms of market reallocation, it is important that Finland exploits its competitive advantages related to sustainability and the green transition. In the future, we must be able to react to sudden crises and surprising opportunities in a more agile manner, including through export promotion.”
EK’s Ambassador Awards in 2023
Markku Keinänen, Head of Mission to the Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU and the organisation he heads in Brussels are influential experts highly valued by businesses. Throughout his career, Keinänen has promoted favourable operating conditions for SMEs within the EU and with third countries, and has advocated free trade and trade agreements, which are vital for SMEs. Keinänen has an in-depth understanding of business, industry and the economy. Companies appreciate him as an approachable and pragmatic partner.
Finland’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Anu-Eerika Viljanen, has successfully taken her role as a partner for companies in her new destination country. In a competitive market, the role of the ambassador is even more significant than usual. Viljanen has been a valuable partner for companies in identifying opportunities and risks and in understanding the special characteristics of the country. She has helped companies discover business opportunities arising from the green transition, smart infrastructure, education and the health sector.
2022 was a historic year, as the United States became Finland’s most significant export market. Team Finland in the United States, led by Ambassador Mikko Hautala, has been instrumental in building favourable conditions for Finland, now a NATO member country, to turn the new potential in the United States into commercial success. Under Hautala’s leadership, the Team Finland professionals have worked closely with business and industry. One of the important results of this work is the establishment of a new commercial post in Washington to deepen technology cooperation. Finland has also been a pioneer in the development of state-specific trade relations in the United States.
Management of the Team Finland team in the US: Petri Haahti (on the left), Okko-Pekka Salmimies, Jarmo Sareva and Mikko Hautala.