Internationality 2018: Industrial export perks up at last

The Tampere Region is an internationally active area in terms of commerce, human capital, tourism and operating methods. Industrial production in the Tampere Region is largely concentrated in import-driven fields, and service export is also becoming more commonplace.

The region’s trade balance, the ratio between export and import, improved significantly in 2017. According to preliminary information provided by Statistics Finland, exports from the Tampere Region increased by 6.5% in 2017. After many years of negative development and zero growth, industrial exports are finally looking up, which has been a source of much joy in the industry- and export-oriented region.

Metal industry remains the most solid cornerstone of industrial exports in the Tampere Region (MEUR 2,849 in 2017). In the materials examined, this cluster consists of the electronics, machine and vehicle industries, alongside the refining and production of metals (TOL 24–30). Another strong export sector in the region is forestry (MEUR 2,062), with the manufacture of chemicals and rubber and plastic products taking third place (MEUR 1,060 in 2017).

The long view of the development of exports spanning more than a decade is very illustrative of the structural change in the Tampere Region (figure below). The metal industry sector that encompasses the machine and electronics industry (red in the diagram) contributed to as much as 60% of the regional exports in 2008. The repercussions of the international economic decline brought the demand to a critical level within the sector, dropping the value of exports in the Tampere Region by one-third in 2009. Exports were clearly reinvigorated in 2010–2013, but they plummeted again in 2014–2016 even lower than before the recession. In 2017, some signs of new growth in exports were once again seen in the metal, machine and electronics industry.

Export in industries in Tampere Region in 2005-2017. Red bars: technology, metal and machinery; blue: lumber industry; orange: chemical and oil products; dark blue: food industry and green: textiles.

In the other leading export fields in the Tampere Region, the forest and chemicals industries, export development has been far more balanced. The demand in these fields is much less susceptible to changes in economic trends than in the metal, machine and electronic industries, which are dependent on investments.

In 2017, the growth in exports in the Tampere Region were relatively the strongest in the food industry (21%), textile industry (14%) and the metal industry cluster (13%). Exports of chemicals and rubber products increased by 4%. Exports in the forest industry decreased slightly in 2017 by 2.5%.

In the Tampere Region, 4% of business establishments, i.e. 1,042 locations, engage in exports. Import activities are slightly more common (1,516 establishments; 6% of all companies). The region’s export intensity, i.e. the value of exports in proportion to the turnover of companies, stood at 13% in 2016. This was a reduction of 1.1 percentage points over the previous year. Based on the preliminary statistics on industrial exports, we can expect the ratio to have improved in 2017. Exports from the Tampere Region most commonly go to Russia (2016: 890 establishments), Asia (860), America (620) and EU28 countries (560 establishments).

The region features 615 business establishment with a foreign background, most of which operate in trade and services. This number has remained roughly the same in recent years. The employment impact of companies with a foreign background is approx. 1,400 people.

The visibility and accessibility of Tampere and the Tampere Region have improved. According to Visit Tampere, the year 2017 was particularly interesting and active: the Moomin Museum was opened, many international artists, such as Robbie Williams, held concerts in the region, international football matches were organised and significant marketing efforts were launched for the new attraction of the Särkänniemi amusement park. International interest was also piqued by the exhibitions of the Mänttä-Vilppula Serlachius Museum. Traffic through the Tampere-Pirkkala Airport has started to increase as far as domestic and international flights are concerned. In 2017, a new direct Air Baltic route to Riga was opened, and some individual flights to new holiday destinations were also made available.

Among the internationalisation indicators of institutes of higher education, a particular increase has been seen in foreign funding. The number of foreign researchers has reduced slightly, but more degree students have been successfully drawn to the region. Tampere3 has invested in the offering of English-language degree programmes, which has led to record-high numbers of international applicants. For more information, read the 2018 situational picture of higher education institutions.