Q and A

PM Marin: How NZ can catch up with Finland’s economy

December 4, 2022

Finland’s PM Sanna Marin has offered advice on how New Zealand can emulate her country's high-tech and high-income economy.

She was in the country earlier this week as part of a business delegation, which included representatives from the likes of Nokia and Kone Corporation.

Finland has less income inequality than New Zealand according to the GINI coefficient measurement, along with scoring higher on GDP per capita and the Human Development Index.

And by contrast to Finland’s export profile of electronics and manufactured products, New Zealand’s exports are dominated by primary industries.

In an exclusive interview, PM Sanna Marin told Q + A with Jack Tame the secret to their success is a commitment to education, and research and development, and that the issue had been taken out of day-to-day politics.

“We are actually now sharing a goal together with also opposition parties to raise our R&D investments to 4% to 2030. So that's a very high, ambitious goal,” said Marin.

She said that included the private sector, and “the government will only provide one-third of the investment funds and two-thirds will come from the private sector”.

However, Marin warned countries need to be careful about who they trade with, particularly China – New Zealand’s largest trading partner.

“We will see in the future that technologies and the digital environment will only be more in our societies than now, and we have to make sure that we don't have that kind of dependencies that becomes vulnerabilities and risks that will come to realise.

“So we have to make sure that we have different trading routes, that we have democratic partners that we trade with, that we have the capabilities to produce, for example, semiconductor chips – all the critical infrastructure that we need in our digital societies,” said Marin.

She said the Russian invasion of Ukraine had highlighted the risks of associating with authoritarian regimes.

“As Europeans, we are too dependent on Russian energy, and we cannot be as dependent on new technologies and on digital infrastructure when it comes to authoritarian countries. We cannot be that vulnerable.”