Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has now continued for almost a year and nine months. However, the repair of the damage and the reconstruction of Ukraine have already begun. Would this be the time for Finnish forest industry to join the effort while at the same time creatinga foothold for future business opportunities?

According to the Finland's new Government Programme, support for Ukraine will be Finland's largest development cooperation target during this government term. All support will take into account the strengthening of the rule of law structures and the fight against corruption. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs is currently preparing a national reconstruction plan for Ukraine together with the business sector, the Team Finland network and specialised financial institutions. The first part of the plan focuses on the needs of companies.

At the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, we are keeping a close eye on the completion of the reconstruction plan. We hope that it will clarify and intensify cooperation between the public and the private sectors, provide a model for the provision of advisory services and provide concrete solutions to the financing and collateral elements. The work is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Focus on reliable business partners

As a market, Ukraine can hardly be taken over through e-mails and Teams negotiations. A prerequisite for business transactions is finding reliable business partners and establishing a presence at some level on the market. Denmark, Sweden, the Baltic States and Poland are often mentioned as market openers, but it may still be possible for Finland to close the gap. Through cooperation and the exchange of information, we could utilise the best practices and learn from each other's mistakes.

Funding and the absence of war insurance have been identified as key bottlenecks in the reconstruction of Ukraine. Public solutions in areas such as export and trade financing and development financing will enable investments to be multiplied in the future with the help of private capital. Solutions to war insurance have been sought through international financial institutions, but the need for national solutions is acknowledged. Ukraine has promised to address the corruption plaguing the country, and the issue will certainly be among those to be resolved at the start of the EU accession negotiations.

In order to highlight tenders and projects related to reconstruction, platforms such as Prozorro and Dream have been set up, which bring together reconstruction projects opening in different areas. On the platforms, interested companies can search for projects, get more information about them and participate in competitive tendering relating to the projects. Ukraine's investments in digital services are part of the openness of society.

The Finnish forest industry can contribute to the reconstruction of Ukraine

The reconstruction of Ukraine is often divided into three phases, the first of which focuses on repairing the critical infrastructure and the areas devastated by war. The second phase focuses on the development of the country and the reconstruction of the future. The third and final stage has been described as a step towards EU membership. Our industry sector certainly has something to contribute, at least to the second stage described above.

According to experts, now would be an opportune time to do the groundwork, establish the necessary contacts and even take deliberate action to utilise the existing business opportunities. The Finnish Forest Industries Federation actively monitors the developments in Ukraine and shares information with its member companies with the aim of promoting their preparedness to succeed in a changing world.