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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finns Mull $1.8Bln in Timber Projects

ReutersFinnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen getting the lowdown on some machinery from his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Kasyanov.
Russia and Finland are discussing $1.8 billion in investment projects for the timber industry and are looking to form a joint working group to develop relations in this sector.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov pushed for investment in Russia's timber industry during a visit by Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen.

Kasyanov said, however, that Russia must change its trade relations with Finland, a major buyer of Russian wood.

Russia must cease being merely a supplier of raw materials for other countries' timber industries and should instead seek investment for its own timber processing plants, Interfax reported Kasyanov as telling a conference attended by Finnish businessmen.

"The structure of our export is not satisfactory for either the Russian government or businessmen," Kasyanov was quoted as saying.

Finnish investment in Russia's timber industry over the past decade was a mere $79 million, Kasyanov said. Meanwhile, several plants have been built just over the border in Finland to process Russian wood, he said.

Russia and Finland are discussing investment projects, including three paper mills and a lumber factory, Interfax reported the Economic Development and Trade Ministry as saying.

Finland and Russia are also planning to form a working group for cooperation in the timber industry. The group is expected to "monitor and carry out projects to develop cooperation in the timber sphere," Itar-Tass reported Kasyanov as saying.

Russia exported 11.7 million cubic meters of lumber to Finland last year, accounting for 82 percent of the country's wood imports, the ministry said.

Lipponen arrived in Moscow on Thursday. He told President Vladimir Putin that exploring further cooperation in the timber industry was a major goal of his visit.

On Friday afternoon, Lipponen traveled with Kasyanov to Vladimir and Suzdal near Moscow. (AP, MT)