Finland lost its AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s last week, thanks to the “loss of global market share in the key information technology sector [and] structural retrenchment of the important forestry sector,” according to S&P. Today, Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb laid the blame for the decline of its tech and paper industries at the feet of one company: Apple.
“We have two champions which went down,” Stubb told CNBC. ”I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry, but we’ll make a comeback.”
Before the debut of the iPhone in 2007, Nokia was worth $150 billion, accounting for a quarter of Finland’s economic growth from 1998 to 2007 as well as paying a fifth of all corporation tax in the country. But since the advent of the touchscreen smartphone, Nokia’s shares steadily lost three-quarters of their value before Microsoft swooped and bought the company’s mobile phone business for $7 billion last year. What’s left of the old Nokia now focuses on telecoms network equipment, an industry that isn’t exactly in rude health.
The outlook for Finland’s paper companies is not great either. Shares of Stora Enso have shed nearly half of their value over the past five years. It might be a stretch to blame the iPad for the decline of books, magazines, and newspapers across the world, but people are definitely consuming more digital content on devices by Apple and its competitors—including Stubb himself:
The prime minister is positive on Finland’s future, though. “Forest is coming back in terms of bio energy and other things,” he told CNBC. “And actually a new Nokia has emerged. Usually what happens is that when you have dire times you get a lot of innovation and I think from the public sector our job is to create the platform for it.”