Finnish GDP down by 2.9 pct in 2020

People wearing face masks walk in the city center in Helsinki on January 12, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

HELSINKI, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Finland's gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 2.9 percent in 2020, Statistics Finland reported on Friday.

Calculated at current prices, Finnish GDP during 2020 was 1.3 percent lower from the previous year, said the statistics authority.

According to Statistics Finland's Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate in the whole year of 2020 was 7.8 percent.

In 2020, total demand in the national economy contracted by four percent from 2019. Other demand items diminished clearly but government consumption expenditure grew marginally.

During the final months of 2020, Finnish GDP saw a slight increase, but did not reach the pre-pandemic level. Preliminary data for the fourth quarter (Q4) indicated that GDP increased in October-December 2020 by 0.4 percent from the previous quarter, but remained 1.4 percent lower than one year earlier, according to Statistics Finland.

Meanwhile, the volume of Finnish exports grew by 8.8 percent in Q4 2020, but the volume of Finnish imports decreased by 1.4 percent from the level in July to September.

The downturn in Finland's national economy, which started already in mid-2019, continued in 2020. At the beginning of the year, the country's economy was already in recession and the prospect became even gloomier as the coronavirus pandemic spread globally.

The restrictive measures and recommendations imposed to prevent the spread of the pandemic, as well as uncertainty about the future, hit especially the service industries and international trade in the second quarter, when GDP dropped 4.3 percent from the first quarter (Q1).

Initial comments from analysts on Friday described the Finnish economic figures as surprisingly good. Timo Vesala, chief economist at Municipality Finance (MuniFin), one of the largest financing institutions in Finland, said that Finland "did bafflingly well compared to what was seen around the world, as Q1 and Q4 were adjusted upwards."

According to preliminary data compiled by Eurostat, GDP in the European Union area contracted by 6.4 percent in the whole year of 2020.

Statistics Finland on Friday also updated GDP figures for 2019. The growth of GDP volume in 2019 was 1.3 percent, instead of the 1.1 published earlier.