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OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform: Finland 2003

A New Consensus for Change

image of OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform: Finland 2003

Finland is one of many OECD countries to request a broad review by the OECD of its regulatory practices and reforms. This review presents an overall picture, set within a macro-economic context, of regulatory achievements and challenges including regulatory quality, competition policy, and market openness. It also assesses progress in the commercialisation of government services.

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Competition Policy

Finland’s competition policy goes back a long way with the earliest reported decision, against a restrictive agreement among mill owners, in 1837. Policy development has largely reflected the country’s distinctive pattern of industrial development, which in turn reflects its political history. Thus a large number of companies grew up in infrastructure industries such as electricity and telecoms, which helped to deter Russian take-over when this was an important threat. But later this also facilitated early and successful liberalisation as part of the 1980s economic reforms in which competition policy played a major role. On the other hand Finland’s small size and isolation from other markets, combined with a desire  to succeed in export markets, encouraged concentration in some sectors, such as forest products. The problem of industrial combinations was first discussed in 1928, but price controls were for a long time the main way of dealing with market abuses: as late as 1984, 40% of prices were still liable to regulation. Domestic producers were shielded from foreign competition by import licences. The policy of economic nationalism also supported the emergence of state enterprises and government ownership to this day remains an important feature of Finland’s industrial landscape. This evolutionary process, in which competition policy nonetheless remained largely tailored to the prevailing culture of collective corporatism, carried on through most of the twentieth century....

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