Researchers Eini Haaja and Anna Karhu moderated a panel discussion on transatlantic relations between the EU and the US at the Europe Forum. The panel was a collaboration between the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi. The speakers were selected from various backgrounds to provide a comprehensive picture of the topic of Transatlantic Trade Relations in Turmoil – A Challenge or an opportunity for Nordic Export Companies? You can watch the panel in full on the Europe Forum’s website.
The panel started with Eini Haaja’s introduction to the EU-US relations pointing out that this relationship has been based on shared values but recently there have been new developments that bring on implications for the Nordic export companies. These implications have also made businesses more interested in considering the risks that are related to the trade between the economic superpowers.
Kristiina Helenius, CEO of Miltton USA, delivered a keynote to the panel by talking about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. In her speech, Helenius pointed out that the Act’s name is misleading as it’s not only meant to tackle inflation but it should be seen as one of the greatest economic restructuring that the country has seen. Helenius also appraised the green goals that the Biden administration has put on the map and mentioned that the current administration is the most professional one in her career. Helenius also made the point that the EU has tried for a very long time to engage the US in the green transition and now once it’s happening there have been commentators criticising how the transition is happening too quickly and it’s too US-centric. Still, Helenius sees the relationship between the US and the EU as nothing but a “quarrel between an old married couple”.
The keynote was followed by a discussion about the opportunities that these transatlantic relations create for Nordic companies. Anders Ahnlid, Director-General, National Board of Trade Sweden, started the discussion by stating that the opportunities are huge for Nordic companies especially when it comes to green transition and digitalisation. This sentiment was shared by all the panellists, however, there was also some disagreement on how effective the Inflation Reduction Act was going to be in the long run. Edvard Johansson, Professor, Åbo Akademi, argued that in terms of macroeconomics, we could talk about the Inflation Increasing Act due to the sheer size of the fiscal expansion.
Another question that was discussed was the role of policy-makers when it comes to supporting transatlantic trade in future. Petri Vuorio, Director of Entrepreneurship, EU and International Trade SME-Affairs, Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), said that there are two aspects that need to be resolved by politicians as soon as possible. The first one is to agree on the terms of the Critical Minerals Agreement as this would mean that the EU companies will be treated the same as the US ones. The second point was about the importance of security policy cooperation. According to Vuorio, the current Trade and Technology Council is not sufficient enough to resolve the current security concerns.
All of the panellists also emphasised the importance of Nordic cooperation explaining that as a group the Nordic countries are more interesting group and get better access. Helenius also mentioned that the benefits of working together outweigh the separate national interests of each country.
You can watch the whole discussion on the webpage of the Europe Forum (Crichton 1.9.2023, the panel starts at 20:48).