Sharing land borders with Sweden to its northwest, Norway to its north and Russia to its east, the Republic of Finland shipped US$73.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 22.9% gain from 2015 to 2019 but a -2.6% dip from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, Finland uses the euro which appreciated by 0.9% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.5% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker EU currency in 2019 made Finnish exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers compared to 2018.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 65% of products exported from Finland were bought by importers in: Germany (14.1% of the global total), Sweden (9.4%), United States (7.1%), Netherlands (5.8%), Russia (5.4%), China (5.2%), United Kingdom (3.8%), Italy (3.5%), Belgium (3%), France (2.9%), Estonia (2.5%) and Norway (2.4%).
From a continental perspective, 70.2% of Finland’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 15.3% were sold to importers in Asia. Finland shipped another 9.1% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (2.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.9%) then Oceania led by Australia (1.3%).
Given Finland’s population of 5.5 million people, its total $73.3 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $13,300 for every resident in the Northern European nation.
Finland’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Finnish global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Finland.
- Machinery including computers: US$9.8 billion (13.4% of total exports)
- Paper, paper items: $8.9 billion (12.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $6.8 billion (9.3%)
- Vehicles: $5.7 billion (7.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.7 billion (7.8%)
- Iron, steel: $4.3 billion (5.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.5 billion (4.7%)
- Wood: $3.1 billion (4.2%)
- Woodpulp: $2.8 billion (3.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.4 billion (3.3%)
Finland’s top 10 exports accounted for approaching three-quarters (72.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 7.3% from 2018 to 2019. The other categories to improve in international sales were machinery including computers (up 3.9%) and optical, technical and medical apparatus (up 2.7%).
The leading decliner among Finland’s top 10 export categories was woodpulp thanks to a -11.4% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Finland’s most valuable exported product is refined petroleum oils (7.9% of total). In second place was coated paper (6.3%), cars (4.6%), non-dissolving chemical woodpulp (3.4%), flat-rolled stainless steel items (3.2%), sawn wood (2.6%), cruise or cargo ships (2.5%) then electro-medical equipment like xrays machines (2%).
The following types of Finnish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Paper, paper items: US$8.3 billion (Down by -0.8% since 2018)
- Woodpulp: $2.5 billion (Down by -8.5%)
- Ships, boats: $2 billion (Up by 96.8%)
- Wood: $2 billion (Down by -10.5%)
- Iron, steel: $1.8 billion (Down by -17.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.1 billion (Down by -8.8%)
- Copper: $741.3 million (Down by -18.2%)
- Zinc: $677.4 million (Down by -9.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $570.7 million (Up by 10.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $293.7 million (Reversing a -$452.9 million deficit)
Finland has highly positive net exports in the international trade of paper and products made from paper. In turn, these cashflows indicate Finland’s strong competitive advantages under the paper and paper items category.
Overall, Finland incurred a -$166.8 million trade deficit during 2019, down -94.6% from -$3.1 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Finland that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Finland’s goods trail Finnish importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$4.5 billion (Down by -21.7% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.8 billion (Up by 56.3%)
- Vehicles: -$1.8 billion (Up by 25.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.5 billion (Up by 4.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$1.4 billion (Down by -2.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$855.8 million (Up by 6.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$632.3 million (Up by 0.4%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$584.4 million (Down by -1.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$508.4 million (Down by -3.6%)
- Machinery including computers: -$426.4 million (Up by 388.6%)
Finland has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related products category, particularly for crude oil, electrical energy and coal.
Finnish Export Companies
Twelve Finnish corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of Finland’s major companies that Forbes included.
- Metso (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- Neste Oil (oil, gas)
- Nokia (communications equipment)
- Outokumpu (iron, steel)
- Stora Enso (paper, paper products)
- UPM-Kymmene (paper, paper products)
- Wärtsilä (heavy equipment)
Wikipedia also lists companies headquartered in Finland that engaged in international trade transactions.
- Altia (alcoholic beverages)
- Fiskars (scissors, gardening tools, kitchenware)
- HKScan (meat products)
- Kemira Oyj (chemicals)
- Metsä Group (wood products, paper)
- Neste (refined petroleum)
In macroeconomic terms, Finland’s total exported goods represent 27.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($264.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 27.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 29.3% for 2018. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Finland’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Finland’s average unemployment rate was 6.54% for 2019, down from 7.417% one year earlier according to the International Monetary Fund.
Finland’s capital city is Helsinki.
See also Finland’s Top Trading Partners and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Middle East: Israel. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 25, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 25, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 25, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Finland. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, Finland. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 25, 2020