Dear Friends,

The first weeks of year 2017 have been eventful. The free world has a new leader and the markets have reacted by Dow Jones index breaking the 20,000 for the first time. This is also the year when Finland celebrates its 100 years as an independent nation. This will be a memorable year also for FACC for numerous reasons.

“More business, less politics" has been our leading principle. While some trade promotion organizations have taken a more active role in politics, we have stayed loyal to this principle. The outcome of the US presidential election was an excellent reminder why export promotion cannot be run on populism. Many sought a moment of glory in the spotlight, strongly criticizing Mr. Trump, betting on his loss. FACC focused on facts and refrained from political rhetoric and media sexy comments.

Careless comments have evoked resentment on the now President, his staff, and thus the new US government. Repairing the damage that the short-sighted comments will have on trade relationships between Finland and the US could take years. FACC will assume a strong role in the endeavors of rebuilding these commercial relationships.
The principle of political neutrality has served FACC well for several decades. Building great and sustainable businesses does not run on four year cycles. The same applies to true patriotism. Sustainable economic development of any sovereign nation requires long-standing principles, laser sharp priorities and hard work.

Looking ahead, I have some excellent news. It gives me great pleasure to inform you, that with volunteer staff, we once again have boots on the ground in Finland. Ms. Annemarie Hjorth, former Executive Director of FACC NY, has been appointed to head the new organization. FACC Finland offers access to all 11 FACC chapters around the USA. During the first few weeks, various stakeholder groups have already joined us in the effort to rebuild FACC Finland.

As many of you may remember, FACC Finland was succeeded by Amcham Finland in 2010, as a result of an effort to enhance transatlantic cooperation. Over the years, Amcham Finland assumed a new name Ambition Champions and has focused its resources into expansion into new areas like Sweden, Russia and Japan. This development has created a vacuum in trade promotion efforts between US and Finland at a time of unprecedented new challenges and opportunities in global trade relationships.

For quite some time now, there has been a rising demand for an organization focusing its resources solely on a transatlantic mission. If we compare resourcing of the Finnish export efforts in the US, even after taking into consideration the governmental Team Finland resources, we have only a fraction of the troops on the ground compared to other EU nations. FACC will prioritize repairing the relationships and building a more sustainable and clearly focused trade promotion cooperation between the US and Finland.

During the very first few weeks since the launch of FACC Finland, we have received unprecedented support from numerous stakeholders. I would especially like to recognize the support of, and give my sincere thanks to, the US Embassy in Helsinki and FinnCham (Keskuskauppakamari), and their magnificent leadership and staff.

Further, I would like to use this opportunity to thank FACC NY's Executive Director Marko Salonen, volunteers and the board of directors for making this all possible. A great example of this effort was the kick off of Finland’s centennial celebrations on January 28th with Finnish community and its friends gathering to see one of the most well known and decorated contemporary Finnish athletes, Ms. Kiira Korpi, perform on ice in New York’s Central Park. The great spirit and selfless contributions from so many of our patrons have propelled FACC to what it is today. With very humble mind, I wish to thank you all.

Toni Toikka

President and Chairman