Arctic was one of the topics during the state visit of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Finland. During President Steinmeier’s visit to Arctia Ltd’s icebreaker, the company’s President and CEO, Mr. Tero Vauraste, delivered a speech titled “Arctic: Sustainable Investment Connector”. Mr. Vauraste also serves as the Chair of the AEC.
Mr. Vauraste mentioned that during the creation of the AEC, one of the visions was that of a “Pan-Arctic Free Trade Zone”. One of the AEC’s primary aims is establishing strong market connections and ensuring market access within the region as well as globally. In addition, he mentioned that free trade is not a threat to sovereignty. However, protectionism endangers sustainable development of the Arctic by imposing sanctions on the free exchange of the best-available technologies and services. Fortunately, there are also positive examples: EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreements are exceptions to the trend and the AEC warmly welcomes these developments.
Connectivity is not only one of the four main themes of the Finnish Arctic Council chairmanship, but also a focus area for AEC during the current Finnish businesses’ chairmanship term.
Mr. Vauraste mentioned planned data cable link between Europe and Asia via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as a very important initiative. This would make a significant speed up of the pace of data transfers and give improvement of efficiency and economic benefit.
The rail link, data cable and pipelines are costly investments with a need of international funding. The AEC views Public-Private Partnerships as a potential model for long-term infrastructural investment funding. He mentioned that international consortiums are needed but unfortunately the current unstable situation limits the private investors’ willingness to go to the Arctic.
Lastly, Mr. Vauraste finalized his speech by seeking the decision-makers’ support in lowering barriers of trade for the best of sustainable export and import and investment in the Arctic.
You can find the full speech here