"Not many people know of Finland" says Juha Markkanenhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=juha+markkanen, the man until recently in charge of making Finland great again in California and a dozen other American states.
The veteran Finnish diplomat has just returned home from a three year posting as Consul General in Los Angeles - Finland's Promotor-in-Chief to a part of the world that matters for exports.
"California is the sixth biggest economic entity in the world" Markkanen says on the new episode of Newsmakers, HSTV's weekly English-language current affairs show. "Their economy is bigger than Brazil or Canada or Russia".
So what are the potential ramifications for Finnish exports and business aspirations of an incoming Donald Trump http://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=donald+trumpadministration?
Markkanen says he and many others in California were "really surprised" that Trump emerged as victor in the November 8th election. Although California's popular vote and 55 electoral college votes went to Hillary Clintonhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=hillary+clinton, much of the rest of the country voted for her Republican rival, who won by a comfortable margin.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump espoused an "America first" economic strategy; talked of levying hefty trade tarrifs against China; and spoke out against transnational trade agreements like NAFTA, which he and his supporters believe have cost America jobs.
Could it make life difficult for Finnish companies trying to crack the American market? Juha Markkanen thinks not, thanks to ongoing trade promotion and relentless "Team Finland" efforts in the west, uniting Finnish government-backed entities like Finpro, Finvera and Tekes.
"We Finns are pragmatists" says Markkanen. "The rhetoric of Mr Trump was very tough, very hard, particularly against China, against some Asian partners and against Mexico. So we need to see. It's wait and see. And we will see what are the real actions when he is starting in February".
During his time in Los Angeles, Markkanen has seen the USA become the second largest export market for Finnish service industries; and the third largest export market for other Finnish companies. It adds up to "hundreds of millions" of euros/dollars, according to Markkanen. And that's hundreds of millions of reasons for Finland and the US to continue their bilateral trade, no matter who is in the White House.
"Both Finland and the USA have been enjoying free trade for decades" says Markkanen. "The benefits for USA or the benefits for Finland are very huge".
But still, he says, Finnish companies have to be prepared to be flexible.
"If Finnish companies are meeting some difficulties in one market, immediately they will start evaluating some other markets, and that could be behind the success of Finnish exports to the US" explains Markkanen. "That's the pragmatism built into the Finnish mentality" he adds.
Most of the Finnish companies with operations in the western US are IT related; and the industries are categorised by 'clusters' like cleantech, edutech, health and wellness, and creative services such as game development, literature and film or television.
A decade ago, notes Markkanen, there were less than a dozen Finnish companies with offices in California. Now there are 70 to 80, driven largely by IT knowhow, and the willingness of smaller companies to explore export market opportunities.
"Finnish exports are getting more diverse, small and medium sized enterprises, and even start ups" says the diplomat. "We have been helping many many small companies and startups evaluating export options to US markets, and that's one of the most difficult markets of the world, but also great opportunities at the same time".
Another boost to trade is Finnair's decision to reinstate a seasonal flight from Helsinki to Los Angeles, says Markkanen. This gives Finnish companies chasing the American dream a direct flight to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and opens up new export opportunities in the wild wild West.