FinnCham Interviewed Johannes Axnix, President of Finnforum, Vienna, Austria on 25th September 2017.

The Austrian economy has continued to perform strongly this year and the consumer and business confidence indicators have remained optimistic.  What will the future economy look like in your opinion after the elections in October and in the coming year?

„Austria's economy is very stable. It is hardly imaginable that a new government will cause major changes. Especially the medium-sized business proves to be robust. I am pretty convinced it will stay that way.“

 Austria is dependent on foreign trade. The EU Member States are Austria’s main trading partners. How actively and in which areas outside the EU Austrian enterprises are looking for business opportunities and why?

„For the first time since 2011, the Austrian export sector has seen strong growth again. The strongest export countries outside Europe are the USA, China and Russia. On the other hand Austria still has a trade deficit. So new business opportunities are mostly welcome, e.g. in the field of machinery, electronic and chemical products, health care and the service sector.“

Trade between Austria and Finland is quite modest. Please, tell us in which sectors Finnish companies could find business opportunities or possibilities for cooperation in Austria?

„Finland is seen as a part of Scandinavia. And design from Scandinavia is very much appreciated. Also, the wood and paper industry is still quite strong. Innovative solutions such as smart city projects, or in the green economy sector, open up business opportunities. I also see potentials for cooperation in research and development, because the structures are very similar here. The cultural and creative industry is attracting attention increasingly – there are good business opportunities, too. “

What are the main cultural differences in doing business between Austria and Finland or are there any?

There are many similarities. For example, high demands on quality. Differences I see definitely in the area of communication. Finns go straight to the point, focus on the subject. For Austrians it is more important to first get to know the person better. If someone in Austria praises your product, this is often pure courtesy. Austrians are also quickly enthusiastic. After a few days, this can also quickly be forgotten. And Austrians are more formal and conservative, eg in terms of clothing regulations. My hint: Don’t be underdressed. “

What are the main challenges to Austrian companies to find business opportunities in Finland?

„Although many Finns speak English very well, I see certain language barriers. Finland still is not so well known here. Companies often don’t have an idea what to expect in Finland.

I cannot say much more, as my business is running in the opposite direction.“

Please, tell us about the activities of the “Finnish-Österreichisches Wirtschaftsforum” “Finnish-Austrian Business Forum” and its members – how they can connect business between Austria and Finland?

 „Austria has eight neighbouring countries. A huge market with some of the strongest economical areas in Europe, like Bavaria, Switzerland or the northern part of Italy. Austria also is the ideal hub for many Eastern European countries.

Therefore, the Finnisch-Austrian-Economic Forum (Finnforum) was already established in 1969 and has since grown to a renowed business network. We offer our members valuable new business contacts and the participation of more than 20 events a year. These events differ from their different target groups: There are members only’ get-to-gethers, company presentation evenings, roundtable discussions in cooperation with the Finnish Embassy or events in cooperation with other foreign trade chambers. Of course, we also organize company visits.

Furthermore, we help Finnish companies establishing their business (organizationally and operationally) and promote their products and services.

So, we are there when Finnish companies need us. “

Article written by Anne Hatanpää, Liaison Manger of the Finland Chamber of Commerce