A Finnish and Estonian delegation visited the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber on 6 December and were excited about the business opportunities and synergies that exist between the Eastern European countries and the city.
It was the first time in seven years that delegates from these two countries had visited the Business Chamber, and today’s meeting follows the Finnish ambassador Kari Alanko’s attendance of the NMMU’s Investing in Blue Symposium hosted in Port Elizabeth in September this year.
The meeting between interested members of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, representing local businesses in various sectors, and the delegation of Finnish and Estonian manufacturing associations and company representatives resulted in robust discussions and an exchange of business information.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler said the purpose of today’s meeting was exploratory and would be followed up by linking the Nelson Mandela Bay Maritime Cluster with twin maritime bodies in Estonia and Finland, along with continued communication between the Business Chamber and the Finland Trade Center (Finpro) and Embassy.
“We do not have a memorandum of understanding yet, but we are excited to formalize this going forward. There are a lot of synergies between the countries, in particular in the automotive, manufacturing and maritime sectors, which could lead to mutually beneficial future business linkages,” Hustler said.
The delegation head, Harri Kuusela, said although the South African visit was fact-finding, the delegation was very impressed by the amount of interest shown in doing business with Finland and Estonia – particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“This is a country with huge possibilities. We are very interested to cooperate with Africa and South Africa. We want to assist businesses through innovation and technology development,” Kuusela said.
Kuusela said the delegation would visit Mexico and Australia, following the South African trip, on a similar mission to facilitate the development of manufacturing, and matchmaking companies.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber board member and past president Mandla Madwara, who represented his company Tadoscene at the event, said developing local manufacturers – particularly in the automotive and renewable energy sectors – was crucial for the region.
Kuusela said Finland and Estonia had a well-established boat building industry; in particular leisure and work boats, as well as extensive experience in servicing oil rigs and managing port handling data systems.