According to 2016 Eurostat data, Aland was the 20th wealthiest of the EU's 268 regions, and the wealthiest in Finland, with a GDP per inhabitant 47% above the EU mean.
The major sectors of Aland's economy are shipping, trade and tourism; shipping representing about 40% of the economy. Shipping is the dominant economic branch, but tourism is gradually increasing in importance, as tourists begin to discover this beautiful part of Northern Europe.
Fishing and farming are also important branches which contribute to the country's GDP. Wind power fast development also should be noticed, as in December 2011 wind power accounted for 31.48% of the island's total electricity usage. The manufacturing industry is the most important industry with a share of approximately 39.5 %.
Regarding Alands exports, it should be mentioned that tax border trade dominates and covers approximately 75 % of commodity exports from Aland. In the export of services, the Finnish and Swedish markets dominate, Finland accounted for approximately 56 % of service exports and Sweden for about 29 %. The transportation industry (shipping) dominate the export of services, with a share of 86 %. The total goods and services exports represent almost 80 % of the GDP of Aland.
The major Aland's export partners are Sweden and Finland, but the island also maintains trade relations with rest of the EU countries (6%) and other world countries (9%).
It is worth mentioning that Aland has a considerable number of businesses and a long entrepreneurial tradition. At present, there are around 2,100 companies: about 600 agricultural businesses, about 20 shipping firms, it also has banks and insurance companies. In addition to the trade in goods and services, major financial transactions are made between Aland and other counties of the world. This fact helps the island to further increases its high degree of exposure and integration in the surrounding economies.
Aland's industrial sector is smaller, compared to those of its neighbours, but it still plays an important role for the island's exports. Local industries process local farm produce and fish, having a significant effect on the island's economy. Aland also has an interesting high-tech plastics industry with worldwide exports, as well as metals, engineering, carpentry, printing and electronics businesses.
Sweden is the most important import partner, accounting for 42 % of the import of goods. It is followed by Finland, which imports about 31% of all services and products made in Aland. It should be mentioned that the direct foreign trade is a growing trend. The wholesale and retail trade industry is the largest importer of goods, with a share of around 38 %.
Finnish Customs in Aland
Address: VIKINGATERMINALEN, Hamngatan, Mariehamn
Postal address: PB 40, 22101 Mariehamn
Phone: +358 295 5200
State Department of Aland
Address: State Administrative Building, Torggatan 16 B, Mariehamn
Phone: +358 18-635 270
Fax: +358 18-635 268
The Aland Islands represent a region of Finland that consists of an archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. It is an autonomous, Swedish-speaking region in Finland and a special member of the EU. Finnish state law applies in the areas in which the Aland Parliament does not have legislative powers:
Finland joined the European Union in 1995. Aland, being a region of Finland, also became a member of the EU, but a member with a special status. In the Aland Protocol (in the Finnish Act of Accession to the EU) it is stipulated that the island is excluded from the application of the EU VAT taxes and excise duties. This means that Aland is part of the EU customs territory, but it is not included in its fiscal territory. These exmptions were made in order to secure the autonomy and local economy of Aland. The special status of Aland in the EU has made it possible to continue selling tax free goods to passengers in the vessel traffic between the Islands and other EU members. This exception also makes tax free sales possible for passengers travelling between The Aland Islands and mainland Finland.
There exists a tax border between Aland and Finland as well as between Aland and other EU countries. As the island is a part of the EU customs territory, there are no customs duties levied on goods transported over Aland border to and from countries members of the EU.
When an Aland based company buys goods from an EU country, it purchases the goods free of tax and pays VAT for them when it imports them to Aland.
An Aland based company which exports goods to an EU country is exempt from taxes. For example, if a German company imports goods from Aland, it has to pay value added tax on the imports.
Aland has a tax frontier, which means that goods being transported in and out of the Island must first be cleared through customs.