Finland posted a record monthly trade surplus for October, boosted by a major deal by one of its shipyards and accelerating economic recovery.
The customs board's preliminary data for October showed a trade surplus of a record $1.4 billion, with exports up 14 percent year-on-year at $4.1 billion and imports up six percent at $2.7 billion.
October saw the departure from Finland of Voyager of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, built by Kvaerner's Masa-Yards for Royal Caribbean
. Economists said that despite this one-off item, the data added to evidence from figures in the past few months indicating that the economy was back on track after being hit by the Russian crisis and a global economic slowdown last autumn. "You can draw a conclusion from these figures that the weakest phase in exports is over," said economist Tarja Heinonen from Leonia Bank. In September, Finnish exports grew eight percent after a flat August and a seven percent fall in July. September industrial production increased by 5.2 percent, 2.1 percent in August and 3.9 percent in July. Timo Tyrvainen, an economist at Aktia Bank, said the latest trade figures combined with other data showed foreign demand was starting to back domestic demand, which has kept the economy going since last autumn. Growth was also driven up by export revenues from the booming technical products industry, which is led by telecommunications equipment maker Nokia.
"This year we expect exports volume to grow overall about one percent, and next year we expect it to rise around 7.5 percent," Tyrvainen said. GDP growth forecasts by Finnish think-tanks, government, banks and brokers vary between 3.5 percent and 4.2 percent for 1999 and between 3.9 percent and 4.5 percent for 2000. - (Katja Heinonen, Reuters)