Annual Report 2022
EastCham’s 2022 Annual Report has been published. Below you can find our CEO Jaana Rekolainen’s review of the year 2022.
Supporting businesses in 2022
The year 2022 was exceptionally difficult for Finnish businesses and the Finnish economy. Companies faced unprecedented challenges, as did we as a Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate the integrity shown by Finnish companies, even when their business activities were suddenly halted and they had to deal with the situation responsibly while navigating sanctions.
On 24 February 2022, I wrote a blog post that began with the following words: “Military operations have started in Ukraine. We are very concerned. This turn of events is beyond our control, but we will do everything we can to help companies with the tools we have at our disposal.” This promise became a task that lasted for the rest of the year and still continues in 2023.
A tremendous need for information on sanctions and enhanced communication with members
Russia’s war of aggression significantly changed the Chamber of Commerce’s operating conditions. We created a crisis plan and decided what we would do, as well as what we would no longer do. We focused all of our resources on helping companies. We received a large number of contacts and enquiries throughout the year. We responded to all of them and sought to give companies access to the information and facts they needed.
We began providing frequently updated and publicly available news coverage on the impacts of the war on international trade and companies’ business operations. We kept our promise to distribute up-to-date, accurate and verified information, which has proven to be of paramount importance during this time. Our website traffic increased, and our frequently updated news coverage has attracted thousands of readers.
During the year, we held a total of 27 briefings on sanctions to analyse the contents of the sanctions and answer questions. In total, we organised nearly 70 events focused on topical issues, attended by over 5,500 participants representing more than 1,200 companies.
Expanding the market area on the basis of companies’ needs
One of the most important events of spring 2022 was the Annual General Meeting, which served as a forum for active dialogue on the Chamber of Commerce’s crisis-related activities and future outlook. Our member companies highlighted the continued importance of the dissemination of information, the provision of advisory services, and networking. They indicated a desire for the Chamber of Commerce to continue its operations and provide services needed by companies.
In the early autumn, we surveyed our member companies’ views on the future direction of the Chamber of Commerce. Among the respondents of the member survey, 82% hoped that the Chamber of Commerce would expand its market area to Central Asia and South Caucasus. Over 70% of the respondents felt that the Chamber of Commerce should also change its name in connection with expanding the geographical scope of its activities.
In late September, the Extraordinary General Meeting resolved to expand the market area, change the name and amend the rules of the Chamber of Commerce. It was decided that the new name of the Chamber of Commerce would be EastCham Finland.
During the autumn, we made fact-finding trips to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia together with Finnish companies and Team Finland partners. The markets of Central Asia and South Caucasus offer many opportunities, and dozens of Finnish companies already operate in them.
Since the autumn, EastCham has been closely involved in the Finnish business sector’s preparations for the reconstruction of Ukraine. In the latter part of the year, the management and Board of Directors of EastCham began working on a new strategy that will set out the priorities and strategic choices for future activities.
Special award granted to Team Finland in Russia
The significance of public internationalisation services was further underscored in 2022. In late August, the Confederation of Finnish Industries granted a special award to Team Finland in Russia. This recognition was particularly pleasing because it spoke to the trust of Finnish companies. It also provided proof of the power of cooperation and strong networks.
The grounds for granting the special award were described as follows: “Team Finland in Russia is recognised for its exceptional role in supporting companies since February 2022. The team has helped companies overcome the unprecedented challenges caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Companies have appreciated the realistic and real-time status information and invaluable advice concerning sanctions and withdrawal from Russia, for example.”
On behalf of everyone at EastCham, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your close cooperation during a difficult year characterised by a major crisis. I especially want to thank companies for seeking information through us, participating in our events, asking questions and giving us feedback. We will continue to build the future together from here.