Almost half of Finnish firms see hit from Russian sanctions

HELSINKI, Finland Almost half of Finland's companies are being hurt by the sanctions imposed by European Union and Russia on each other over the Ukraine crisis, a survey by the Chamber of Commerce showed on Thursday.

Russia is Finland's third-biggest export market, accounting for about 10 per cent of total Finnish sales abroad. Russian tourists spend roughly two billion euros annually in Finland.

The triple-A rated Nordic country has suffered two years of economic contraction as key industries, mobile phones and paper struggled with weak demand.

Finland's gross domestic product (GDP) edged up 0.1 per cent through the second quarter of the year, preliminary data showed on Thursday, indicating the economy may be out of its technical recession. But the Ukraine crisis has increased fears the recovery will be delayed.

In the survey, six per cent of firms said they were being hit directly by the sanctions, while 41 per cent said they see their businesses suffering from the indirect impact of the sanctions.

Of those, one quarter say the impact is significant. But half the respondents said the sanctions were justified, while 16 per cent would like to see more forceful action. Some 24 per cent of managers surveyed did not approve of the sanctions.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea and support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Russia retaliated by banning EU food imports.

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