Finland’s economy thawing at last after a freeze


HELSINKI, Finland — Finland’s economy seems to be regaining strength after four difficult years, with Statistics Finland revealing on Friday the best quarterly growth figure since 2011.

In the first three months of the year, the troubled eurozone country’s gross domestic product grew at 0.6 percent from the previous quarter and at 1.6 percent compared to the previous year, the national statistics institute said. “Three causes of joy: strongest growth since 2011, still potential for growth in exports and eurozone (growth figure) overtaken,” economist Juhana Brotherus, of Hypo bank, tweeted, comparing Finland’s year-on-year growth at 1.58 percent to the eurozone average at 1.53 percent. Finland emerged from a three-year recession in 2015, with tepid growth of 0.5 percent, a situation blamed on its falling competitiveness, ageing population and the economic problems of its major trading partners, Russia and the European Union. Not all difficulties have been overcome. Finland’s exports continued to decline — by 1.1 percent in the first three months of this year and 2.6 percent over a year. “Construction and services are creating growth, while industrial production does not grow or contract,” Brotherus explained on Twitter. The encouraging economic thaw comes as Finland’s centre-right government has spent its first year in office struggling to get the country’s powerful labour unions to agree to a deal cutting the cost of labour in Finland by adding to everyone three working days a year without increasing salaries.