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Mobile Phone Exports Slow

Exports of mobile telephones and other electronic communications devices remain slow at a time when other exports have started to recover from the economic slump. The industry blames the situation on severe competition, but one expert tells YLE that the days of growth in mobile handset exports are a thing of the past.

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Ihmiset kävelivät Nokian vasta-avatun Vertu-luksuspuhelinkaupan ohitse Tokion Ginzan alueella helmikuussa 2009. Image: Everett Kennedy Brown / EPA

Most industrial sectors have been growing this year after a slow 2009. Export figures by the Finish Customs Service indicated double-digit growth already in June. However, the technology industry was not among the surging sectors, with mobile phones staying at last year’s levels.

Jyri Ali-Yrkkö, head of research at the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, (ETLA), an expert in Nokia, the flagship of Finnish mobile telephone exports, says that the recession is not the only reason for the trend.

“Exports of mobile telephones from Finland have actually been falling for a few years. For instance, hardly any phones are exported from Finland to China, while just two years ago tens of millions of euros worth of phones were sold to China each month,” Ali-Yrkkö says.

Figures put out by the employers’ organisation Finnish Technology Industries point in the same direction. The recession continues to hurt exports in Europe, which is the main target area of exporters. Asia is experiencing growth and increasing demand, but that demand is being met by factories set up in Asia, and not by exports of goods manufactured in Finland.

Nokia Introduces New Model Wednesday

Nokia is introducing its new N8 smartphone model on Wednesday. The company hopes that it might enhance the company’s competitiveness. Ali-Yrkkö says that the challenges facing Nokia are greater than they have been in more than two years, and that the expectations might be excessive.

“Perhaps some sign of a turnaround might come from that one model, but it will not be enough to make the big boat reverse its course in the case of Nokia”, Ali-Yrkkö says.

Success of the new model would bring more orders for Nokia’s factory in Salo in the southwest of Finland. It would also benefit the company’s cluster of subcontractors, says Jukka Palokangas, the head economist of Finnish Technology Industries.

“The importance of the Nokia cluster remains very big. Companies in the business currently account for between 15 and 20 percent of Finland’s exports of goods and services. The employment impact is as high as 60,000 jobs, when all of the indirect employment impact is included.

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