Import regulations and customs duties
Since the first of January 1993, the European Union, of which Finland is part, has been a single market, without any customs barriers, which ensures free circulation of goods. On May, 1st of 2004, ten "candidate countries" became new members of the European Union: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Trade within the European Union is totally free from customs duties, provided that the merchandises' country of origin is one of the 25 European Union Member States. Nevertheless, when introducing merchandises into Finland, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.
When the country of origin of the merchandises which are exported to Finland is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
The duties for non-European countries are relatively low,especially for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food-processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, PAC) still know protective measures.
In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs rates regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.
Moreover, many bilateral and multilateral agreements have been signed by the European Union, in order to define specific customs duties with the following countries:
- Customs agreements with Australia, Canada, United States, Mexico and South Korea.
- The EU-EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Agreement was signed in 1972 with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
- Free trade agreements with Bulgaria and Romania that hope join European Union in 2007.
- Mediterranean Agreements, concerning: Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.
- The ACP agreements, with 95% of the tariff lines with a 0% rate for developing countries in Africa, Caribbean Islands and Pacific. The Cotonou Agreement, signed in the year 2000, defines the new EU-ACP partnership.
- The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP): 54% of the tariff lines are at 0% for developing countries outside the ACP framework.
To get an exhaustive list of the foreign trade agreements of the European Union, click here.
>> To get further information on customs policies in the European Union, please check the exhaustive report by the European Commission.
Excise duties are also levied on certain products, especially on spirit.
>> To get further information on the VAT rates in Finland, please check the list of vat rates applied within European Union, as well as the Customs Administration web site.
>> More detailed information on excise duties is available concerning alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, energy products on the European Commission website.
The policies that were conducted between 1996 and 2000 (privatisation, decentralisation, reform of the labour market , etc.) saw the state economy recording important improvements which now rank the country among the best growth performers in the European Union. These good results make the Finnish market more attractive to exporters especially since setting up a business there opens the door to Scandinavia, Russia or Baltic States.
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
The increase in the Finnish consumers purchasing power boosted Finnish imports. Finnish consumers like simple and practical products with simple packaging, non harmful for the environment. The main sectors of the Finnish economy are dominated by oligopolies. Consumables of everyday use are marketed by an integrated system of distribution dominated by 4 big groups : Kesko Oy, Tuko Oy, Sok and Tradeka which control on their own more than 90% of the points of sale of the country.
The Business to Business (B to B) market
Transportation of goods
Suomen Standardisoimisliitto (SCI-FI) is the body in charge of developing normalisation and certification activities. Finland applies the community standards, the ISO 9000 standard is optional, but remains a factor of competitiveness.(ISO 9000)
Patents and brands
Finland signed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). As for patents, Finland signed the agreement of Munich for European patents, the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) and the Strasbourg Agreement concerning International Patent Classification.