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Oil leads Finnish export surge in May

Finnish exports rose fastest outside the EU, while non-EU imports were down – except from the US.

Soihdutusta Nesteen Kilpilahden jalostamolla
Flaring at Neste's refinery at the Kilpilahti industrial area in Porvoo (file photo). Image: Mikael Kokkola / Yle

Refined oil products led the way as Finnish exports rose in late spring, as the value of goods exported from Finland was up six percent year-on-year in May, the Finnish Customs said on Monday.

According the customs board's preliminary calculations, products sent abroad during the month were worth 5.7 billion euros.

Imports were also worth 5.7 billion euros, indicating a more modest rise of two percent since May 2018.

Over the first five months of the year, exports were up by five percent while imports inched up just one percent from the January-May period last year.

Finland was running a relatively small trade deficit of 10 million euros in May, and 90 million euros for the first five months of the year. Those numbers were much larger a year earlier: 250 million euros in May 2018 and more than a billion euros in January through May 2018.

Pricier oil products

The biggest driver of export growth in May was a rise in the value of refined oil products.

Majority state-owned oil company Neste, which bills itself as "the world's largest producer of renewable diesel refined from waste and residues", has refineries in Porvoo and Naantali, as well as two overseas.

Meanwhile there was slower growth in foreign sales of industrial machinery and equipment, while vehicles and forest product exports were flat.

Exports of chemicals and electronic devices were mostly down. Metal exports edged up slightly after bumper sales in May a year earlier, while pharmaceutical sales perked up.

Brisker sales outside the EU

Sales to other European Union states rose by five percent in May, while imports from the EU were up four percent. Exports outside the EU were much brisker, climbing by nine percent, while imports from non-EU countries shrank by one percent.

For the January-through-May period, exports to EU countries grew by three percent while those outside the EU rose twice as fast. Meanwhile five-month imports from the EU were up by three percent, contrasted with a decline of two percent from the rest of the world.

Exports to China and Britain dipped in May, but rose to all other major trading partners, especially Russia and the United States. Imports from Sweden sagged, while those from other main trading countries were mostly unchanged. The exception was imports from the US, which rose significantly compared to a year earlier.

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