Björn Wahlroos, chairman of the board of directors of Sampo Pank, and many other Scandinavian executives agree that the economic crisis has taught Estonians that they need to attract more foreign investments if they want to leave the current downturn behind, writes aripaev.ee
In a recent interview to Finnish media, Wahlroos said that the boom-to-bust period has actually improved the Estonian business climate and made it interesting as a cooperation partner for neighbouring economies.
Wahlroos added that if he were to set up a new business in some North European country right now, he would undoubtedly do it in Estonia. According to the business executive, a key reason is Estonia's favourable tax system.
The interview published in Kauppalehti quickly accumulated almost 150 comments, most of commentators saying they agreed with the banker who is affectionately nicknamed as Teddy-bear.
One commentator said that Estonia is likely to attract more small businesses. "Finland can avoid it only by lowering the corporate tax burden," he said.
Another commentator said that Finland is too often focusing on being competitive in its neighbourhood such as Estonia, Sweden, Northwest Russia and Norway.
Another Scandinavian businessman Fredrik Åberg who has been involved in the Estonian advertising business said that the boom cycle, skyrocketing prices and wages damaged important competitive advantages that Estonia was offering. "Estonia was able to stand out and create a good business environment because they were very focused, creative and wanted to come up with better solutions than competitors. This worked and in a few years made Estonia one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Favourable price level helped this development."
However, according to Åberg, Estonians lost their motivation and drive during the boom years. "When times are good, people don't have to make an ultimate effort. This applies on all nations, but especially on Estonians who have shown their remarkable mobilising ability during hardships."
"People were so busy that no-one had time to take care of personal business relations. Now I can again see this hunger and focus to goals. The crisis has forced Estonia to pull as one and this is bearing fruit. Estonia is bring driven by the goal to join the euro zone and this seems to be successful. Prices and service quality is improving and companies in neighbouring areas are again interested in Estonia. What's most important is that people are again interested in personal relations. This is what I was missing most during the golden days in Estonia," said Åberg.