Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, Finland uses the euro which appreciated by 3.1% against the US dollar since 2016 and increased by 2% from 2019 to 2020. The stronger EU currency in 2020 made Finnish exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers compared to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 64.5% of products exported from Finland were bought by importers in: Germany (13.3% of the global total), Sweden (9.6%), United States (8.3%), Netherlands (6.4%), China (5.1%), Russia (5%), United Kingdom (3.5%), France (3%), Estonia (2.8%), Belgium (2.7%), Norway (2.4%) and Poland (also 2.4%).
From a continental perspective, 68.4% of Finland’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 15.2% were sold to importers in Asia. Finland shipped another 10.4% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2.5%), Africa (2.2%) then Oceania led by Australia (1.3%).
Given Finland’s population of 5.5 million people, its total $66.1 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $11,900 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Finland.
- Machinery including computers: US$9.7 billion (14.7% of total exports)
- Paper, paper items: $7.3 billion (11.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.6 billion (8.5%)
- Vehicles: $5 billion (7.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.9 billion (7.5%)
- Iron, steel: $4.1 billion (6.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.3 billion (4.9%)
- Wood: $2.9 billion (4.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.3 billion (3.5%)
- Woodpulp: $2.2 billion (3.3%)
Finland’s top 10 exports accounted for approaching three-quarters (71.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Machinery including computers represents the sole grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 1.5% from 2019 to 2020.
Leading decliners among Finland’s top 10 export categories were mineral fuels including oil (down -24.4%), woodpulp (down -17.8%), vehicles (down -12%) then paper plus items made from paper (down -10.8%).
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$6.7 billion (Down by -11.8% since 2019)
- Woodpulp: $2.1 billion (Down by -14.6%)
- Iron, steel: $1.8 billion (Down by -3.5%)
- Wood: $1.7 billion (Down by -12.4%)
- Ships, boats: $1.4 billion (Down by -30.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.1 billion (Down by -15.6%)
- Copper: $1.1 billion (Up by 49.5%)
- Gems, precious metals: $824.3 million (Up by 42.9%)
- Zinc: $622.7 million (Down by -6.3%)
- Fertilizers: $243.3 million (Down by -7.7%)
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.
Finland incurred an overall -$1.77 billion trade deficit for 2020, up by 101.2% from $880.7 million 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 2019)
- 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 24.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($272.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 24.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 27.7% for 2019. 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. Note that 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 unemployment rate was 8.1% at February 2021, up from 7.3% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
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 26, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 26, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 26, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 26, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 26, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 26, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 26, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Finland. Accessed on March 26, 2021
Wikipedia, Finland. Accessed on March 26, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 26, 2021