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Updated: October 10, 2019

Maine pact with Finland kicks off first day of Arctic Circle Assembly

Arctic Circle Assembly group photo Courtesy/Arctic Circle Assembly Secretariat Maine Gov. Janet Mills is leading Maine's delegation at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, that runs from Oct. 10-12. More than 2,000 participants from 50 countries are registered to attend.

Gov. Janet Mills and the prime minister of Finland, Antti Rinne, signed an agreement today to collaborate in the fight against climate change while strengthening their respective forest economies.

Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, the two inked a memorandum of understanding on the first day of a three-day international gathering, the Arctic Circle Assembly, where Mills is leading Maine's largest-ever delegation of more than 60 participants.

The accord calls for Maine and Finland to mutually strengthen their forest-based industries, which are cornerstones of both bio-economies, and enhancing forest sustainability in the face of changing climate.

The three-page document lists 10 areas of cooperation including include academic and policy initiatives, information on respective forest-sector priorities, exchanging information on the development of bioproducts standards and bioeconomy standards and climate-change mitigation strategies in the forest sector.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills and Finnish Prime Minister signing agreement in Iceland
Courtesy/Office of Gov. Janet Mills
Finnish Prime Minister (left) Antti Rinne and Maine Gov. Janet Mills sign an agreement to facilitate forest-sector collaboration. The signing took place on the first day of the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The agreement comes less than than five months after a top Finnish government official was in Portland talking about opportunities for Maine companies in value-added, sustainable forest products.

The official told Mainebiz at the time that the challenge for Maine and other places is to balance making money from sustainable forest products, and convincing customers that everything is produced in a sustainable way, while preserving natural resources.

Later on Thursday Mills is scheduled to meet with Arctic Circle Chairman and former Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and with Jeffrey Ross Gunter, U.S. ambassador to Iceland. She'll also attend plenary sessions.

Greenland also on the agenda

Maine's ties with Greenland will also be discussed, ahead of the 2020 launch of a container shipping route between Portland and Nuuk, Greenland, according to Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO) and a 2019 Mainebiz Next honoree.

Dana Eidsness at a podium.
Photo/Tim Greenway
Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine International Trade Center’s Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO).

Via email from Iceland, she said that group events for the Maine delegation include a meeting with peers from Greenland to discuss strategy for mutual business development related to the planned container service, and that a meeting is also planned with Scotland government officials.

More generally, she said the assembly is an "outstanding event for professional development, network building and for identifying partners for research and/or business initiatives."

'Growing interest and momentum'

Wade Merritt, Maine International Trade Center president, praised Eidsness in a news release for working hard over the past five years to build relationships and "ensure that Maine has a voice at the table in the rapidly changing, globally strategic" Arctic region.

He added: "This annual trip to Iceland is a unique opportunity to strengthen existing relationship, make new connections and develop additional collaborations. The Maine delegation size has increased each year, which is a positive sign of growing interest and momentum."

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December 28, 2019

I fully support Maine strengthening ties with Nordic nations. It allows us to take advantage of our geographic location, forest and ocean resources, deepwater ports, and connection to rail transit. This is a win win and I hope it continues.

Martin Grohman Grohman
October 10, 2019

Good work, Gov. Mills ... international trade is so important to Maine's sustainable economic growth.

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