What better way of strengthening relations - and trade ties - than by making a boss of Sheffield stainless steel firm Outokumpu an honorary consul to Finland?
Senior-vice president Philip Rodrigo was yesterday installed by Finnish ambassador to the UK Pekka Huhtaniemi - who also declared the steel firm’s premises in Tinsley the city’s new Finnish Consulate.
Outokumpu, headquartered in Espoo, Finland, is the world’s biggest producer of stainless steel.
Ambassador Huhtaniemi said the role was to promote friendly and commercial relations with Finland
He added: “We feel it’s important to have an honorary consul in Sheffield due to the history of the steel trade between our countries.
“Trade is important in both directions. We have a surplus with the UK, which has always been one of our top 10 trading partners.
“Outokumpu is the second biggest Finnish investor in the UK.
“I’m supposed, as ambassador, to keep my eyes open to new business for Finland and honorary consuls are usually well connected in local circles with economic lobby groups and politicians as well as the area’s cultural, academic, media and sporting life.”
Philip Rodrigo has worked for the business for 25 years.
He said: “I’m delighted to have been chosen and proud to work for a Finnish company.
“No matter where I travel around the world, being back in Sheffield is special, a city I’m proud to say is the birthplace of stainless steel.
“I will take the opportunity to promote Sheffield every day I’m in Finland.”
The ambassador handed over the shield of office.
Locally, Outokumpu is the third biggest manufacturer in Sheffield City Region, according to figures published last week by The Star and accountants BHP, with a turnover of £566m and about 600 employees.
Operations include two divisions - melt shop and distribution - on its vast site off Europa Link and an alloy steel rod unit in Brightside.