Finland’s seaports are recovering well from the pandemic

Despite the decline in turnovers, seaports’ profitability, liquidity and solidity remained quite stable, according to a new study.
The port of Oulu by the sea.
Image The port of Oulu, Finland. Image credit: the Port of Oulu

The COVID-19 pandemic disturbed global supply chains and thereby adversely affected seaports all over the world. The revenues received by port operating companies are usually associated with port of calls and various services provided to vessels and businesses using the ports.

The formerly publicly owned Finnish seaports were corporatised by 2016, and these new port operating companies form the majority of Finland’s seaports. Some individual industry-owned ports still operate as non-corporate entities and have not been turned into limited liability port companies.

The University of Oulu led research on seaports’ financial and economic resilience to the corona pandemic. Collaborating in the research were the University of Turku and University College Dublin.

“When measuring the income by turnovers of the ports there was a clear notch downwards right after the pandemic started. The pre-corona upward trends turned negative”, says the lead researcher, Dr Pekka Leviäkangas, Professor of Infrastructure & Transport at the University of Oulu. “However, the profitability, liquidity and solidity of the port companies remained almost intact”, continues Leviäkangas. “This tells us that the economic resilience of the ports was good.”

In the research, 18 Finnish seaports’ financial statements were analysed before and after 2019 the pandemic outbreak took place, starting in Wuhan. The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global health emergency in January 2020. Despite the pandemic shock, a few ports managed to maintain positive turnover growth. “It is even a bit surprising that seaports that had mainly import traffic were able to have positive turnover growth even after the pandemic outbreak”, outlines Leviäkangas.

The research continues by analysing the distributional effects of the pandemic. The changes in port companies’ value added for workers, owners, suppliers and other stakeholders can be investigated with the acquired data.

Last updated: 6.9.2022