Prime Minister Alexander Stubb suggested Monday Apple’s success was one of the factors contributing to Finland's credit rating downgrade last week. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s reduced Finland’s rating from AAA to AA+ Friday, saying the country’s economic outlook has gone from stable to negative.
With a population of approximately 5.5 million, Finland has seen its gross domestic product drop in each of the past three years. The woes are expected to become worse in large part because of the sanctions introduced on neighboring Russia, but Stubb said there might be more to it than that.
“We have two champions which went down,” he said in an interview with CNBC. Paper has traditionally been a cornerstone of the Finnish economy, with the telecommunication equipment provider Nokia perhaps the most important Finnish corporation.
“A bit paradoxically I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry. But we’ll make a comeback.”
Nokia led the mobile phone world through the early 2000s, introducing the walkie-talkie inspired GSM phone that made it possible for users to speak immediately after pushing a button. Competition from Apple and Samsung overwhelmed Nokia, though, and the bastion of the Finnish economy ultimately was acquired by Microsoft, based in Seattle, earlier this year.
Standard and Poor’s prediction indicates the Finnish economy will remain largely stable though experts warned an aging Finnish population combined with issues in the IT sector will contribute to “protracted stagnation.”
“We also consider that Finland remains vulnerable to Russia’s economic weakness and, more significantly, to any slowdown of economic activity in the Eurozone,” S&P said Friday. “In our opinion it remains uncertain whether other sectors can consistently compensate for the output loss in Finland’s wood and paper industry and its electronics industry.”