Between 1999 and 2004, export transactions financed with the help of Finnvera’s export credit guarantees had an impact of €15bn on production and an impact of over 100,000 person-years on employment in Finland.
The impacts have been felt not only in export enterprises but indirectly in the whole of the Finnish economy, through subcontractors and other networks.
In addition, Finnvera has been a useful companion for export enterprises, for instance, in matters concerning internationalisation and risk management.
Ensuring continued good results requires that the competitiveness of the publicly-supported export financing system be strengthened.
These findings are from a study commissioned by Finnvera and conducted by the Small Business Institute of Turku School of Economics and Business Administration. The study ends the set of three evaluations carried out on Finnvera within the past few years. The first study was an international evaluation of the whole range of Finnvera’s operations. This was followed by a separate evaluation of the effectiveness of Finnvera’s domestic financing.
The latest study investigated the impacts that the export credit guarantees of Finnvera, and the interest equalisation managed by Finnvera’s subsidiary Finnish Export Credit, have on the promotion of exports from the perspectives of export enterprises, their Finnish supplier networks, the principal financiers of exports, and more widely, the entire Finnish economy.
During 1999-2004, Finnvera granted export credit guarantees for a total of approximately 3,750 transactions. These transactions ranged in value from a couple of thousands euros to several hundred million euros. Over 400 enterprises have made use of Finnvera’s export credit guarantees; most of them are small and medium-sized enterprises.
However, large transactions of major companies account for the lion’s share of the total value of export credit guarantees. In interest equalisation, large-scale exports of major exporting companies have played an even more important role than in export credit guarantees.
Tommi Pukkinen, researcher at Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, says that export financing is used mostly in various industrial sectors, especially in the wood and paper industry, the manufacture of machines and equipment, telecommunications, and in the shipyard industry. Export credit guarantees have been used to cover exports to a total of 93 countries.
“Most exports have been to Eastern Europe, but the biggest deals have been made in Asia and North America,” Pukkinen assesses.
Finnvera’s involvement has promoted the exports of enterprises by enabling them to participate in competitive tendering and by speeding up the conclusion of transactions. Enterprises have also benefited from Finnvera’s contact network and expertise in risk management. Pukkinen says that the effects are multiplied over a longer term: realisation of an individual export transaction has often been the start of a long customer relationship and an important reference for other deals.
“The importance of Finnvera’s export financing is accentuated in countries with high political risk, in new customer relationships and in long-term projects of great value,” Pukkinen continues.
The export transactions realised – and thereby Finnvera’s operations – have also had indirect effects on the domestic cooperation networks of Finnish exporters.
“As much as half of the value of export transactions comes from subcontracting,” emphasises Docent Jarna Heinonen of Turku School of Economics and Business Administration. “Large export deals also even out seasonal variations among subcontractors, and when smaller companies work with their clients, they can create international contacts at the same time.”
Society also stands to gain from the situation. Finnvera’s participation in the financing of export transactions has increased the volume of exports by Finnish companies, has contributed to the creation of new jobs, and has helped keep production and jobs in Finland.
According to Pekka Stenholm, senior researcher, export enterprises feel that their competitive standing in the export market would be clearly weaker without Finnvera’s participation. Exporters believe that if Finnvera “services were not available during competitive tendering, they would lose more projects to foreign competitors. As many as two out of three exporters say that they would lose deals or that the value of deals carried out would be smaller.
“In the worst of cases, export enterprises would have to relocate their production or resort to other radical measures,” Stenholm concludes.
The findings of the evaluation show that the efficiency of Finnvera’s international competitiveness can still be improved. In Finnish trade and industrial policy, export financing is not given the same weight as in some other countries. According to the evaluation, this has led to strict interpretation of international regulations and to cautious risk-taking within Finnvera. Finnvera will continue to play an important role in the promotion of exports by Finnish enterprises. This requires that constant attention is paid to maintaining Finnvera’s competitiveness in its own sector.
“We have many strengths to keep up, but there is also a need for continuous improvement. Elimination of Finnvera’s tax liability and making provision for losses would help ensure more competitive terms and higher risk-taking,” says Topi Vesteri, executive vice-president of Finnvera.
Measuring the effectiveness of export financing makes it easier to understand that risk-taking has an impact on employment and production in Finland. “A €
1mn indemnity paid because of a guarantee is not a loss of one million euros for the Finnish economy, thanks to the leverage effect of operations,” Vesteri points out. Finnvera’s export credit guarantee activity has shown a considerable surplus over the period and has in addition brought Finland the substantial benefits pointed out in the impact assessment study made by Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Vesteri concludes.