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Finnish boat exports continue to record steady growth

The growth in exports boosted the Finnish marine industry while domestic sales maintained a constant level, thus representing an increase in turnover for the industry as a whole. Despite the uncertainty generated by the tax debate, the mood in the industry is positive: exactly half of Finnboat members forecast their 2017 turnovers to grow, with every fifth member declaring an intention to increase their workforce.

The value of exports to Sweden were close to EUR 60 million making Sweden Finland's number one export destination. Domestic sales of products and services for the industry as a whole increased by 2% (in euro terms) with overall turnover up by 3%.

The total 2016 turnover of Finnboat membership - comprising, among others, boat manufacturers, docking enterprises and retail traders - amounted to EUR 518 million (VAT 0%, based on ex-factory and import prices). In Finland the marine industry employs some 3500 workers.

Domestic boat sales maintain a steady level

Domestic boat sales showed signs of upward movement at the beginning of 2016. However, boat sales for the whole year remained at the previous year's level, despite the economy showing signs of revival.

"Draft proposals for a boat and vehicular tax initiated by the government have been the source of much discussion in boat trading circles from the beginning of the summer of 2016. The anticipated tax impacted on consumer behaviour and ate into the emerging domestic growth," says Jarkko Pajusalo, CEO of the Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat.

According to Pajusalo, industry professionals and tax specialists alike considered such a targeted spot tax would be very damaging and an international report commissioned by Finnboat confirmed that judgement. Actualising a boat tax would generate a lower than planned revenue source for state coffers, would cause, for the Finnish economy and for employment, detrimental supervisory consequences through changes in consumer behaviour and would lead to additional administrative demands and inefficiencies which are not consistent with current government policy and employment objectives.

Boat registrations in unit terms remained at the previous year's level resulting in 3544 registered boats by year end. Most boats registered were motorboats (2878), with personal water craft comprising 645 and rubber inflatable boats (RIBs) 46. In euro terms, domestic boat sales also remained at the previous year's level.
Total sales of sailboats in Finland (i.e. those over 20 feet) comprised 29 boats, which when compared to the best year was rather few, though nevertheless 7 more than for the previous year.

Small craft sales (i.e. rowing boats and boats below 4,5 meters) remained at the previous year's level, i.e. 2987 units (-1,4%).

Boat industry generates export income

The invoicing value for 2016 boat exports, based on figures supplied by member enterprises, was EUR 222 million, up by 6% when compared with 2015. The export share of the marine industry's total production for 2016 was 73%.

Customs' statistics for the year 2016 are available for the Jan-Nov period only and therefore the actual number of boats shipped across the border for the whole year is not yet known. Export figures for the Jan-Nov period indicate a growth of 13%. The top ten export destinations were as follows:

Country   Units   Euro (millions)     % change
Sweden   4174   58,8     +16,9
Norway   3904   55,6     +2,2
Malta   3   36,5     +93,1
Italy   3   28,2     +77,3
Germany   250   7,5     +12.7
USA   4   6,5     +572,4
France   81   5,3     +121,6
Great Britain   76   4,2     +33,6
Holland   52   3,6     +140
Russia   117   3,2     -67,4

Exports to Sweden grew to almost EUR 60 million. At the same time Sweden overtook Norway to become Finland's number one export destination. In addition, export destinations for the same period and valued at more than one million euros each were Switzerland, Chile, Estonia, Greenland, Cayman Islands, Poland and Denmark. A total of 9161 boats (+27%) were exported to 36 countries during January-November 2016.

Of the total value of 2016 (1-11) boat exports, the sailboat share represents 45,8 % which very much attests to the international competitiveness of high-quality Finnish sailboats.

Boat imports growing

Customs' statistics for boat imports are available for the same Jan-Nov period. The value of imports for the period was EUR 40,9 million (+40,1%). Boats valued at less than EUR 840 each are excluded from these statistics. Import figures for the top five source countries for January-November were as follows:

Country   Units   Euro (million)     % change
Poland   166   6,2     (+19,5%)
Great Britain   2   2,5     (-45,5%)
France   10   2,2     (+248,7%)
USA   230   2     (+37,4%)
Sweden   79   1,7     (-29,18%)

Wholesale deliveries of outboard engines

In all, 22426 outboard engines (-2,9%) were delivered to retailers via Finnish importers. Of these, 10734 (-5,3%) were supplied to the domestic market. Finnish importers re-export engines to, among other destinations, Russia and the Baltic States. Of the outboard engines sold in Finland over 80% are below 40 hp. Few high-output engines are sold in Finland.

The 2016 turnovers of Finnboat member enterprises in millions of euros were as follows (VAT 0%, ex-factory and import prices):

    Domestic Export
Boats   82,5 (-1,8 %) 222,3 (+6,3%)
Engines   56,1 (+51,7 %) 18,3 (+43 %)
Equipment   86,9 (+3,5%) 23,7 (-22,4 %)
Services etc.   27,1 (-5,8 %) 0,6 (-72,1 %)
Total   252,6 (+8,1 %) 264,9 (+4,0 %()

Industry TOTAL. 518 million euros (+6 %)

Marine industry barometer and prospects for 2017

According to the traditional practice, Finnboat asked members about their expectations concerning 2017 turnover and workforce requirements. Industry expectations were mildly positive with employment prospects expected to show slight improvement'

Personnel for 2017

21% of enterprises forecast workforce to increase (21% previous year))
5% of enterprises forecast workforce to decrease (7%)
74% of enterprises forecast workforce to remain the same (72%)

Turnover for 2017

51% of enterprises forecast turnover to increase (50% previous year)
6% of enterprises forecast turnover to decrease (9%)
43% of enterprises forecast turnover to remain the same (41%)

Workers were laid-off in 15% of responding enterprises (14% previous year)

For further information, please contact:

Managing Director Jarkko Pajusalo

Marine Industries Federation Finnboat ry
Käenkuja 8 A 47, 0500 Helsinki
Tel.: 0207 669 341, 040 673 4032