As the race to the parties’ national conventions in the United States intensifies, the election is everywhere. It’s entertaining, for sure. But is there also a professional reason a business person in Europe should take time to understand an election happening 5,000 miles away?

For us, it comes with no less than our mission: Amcham helps Finland be more globally savvy and connected.

And we’d better pay attention. The political landscape in the United States affects the 60 Launchpad USA companies currently making their move to the American market. It’s hard to argue that any company would be unaffected with the decisions and policies of the next leader of the world’s largest economy.

After Germany and Sweden, the U.S. is with 7% a top receiver of Finnish exports. It is the second largest destination for services exports, and the most important destination for high-tech exports. The U.S. is also the world’s largest source of outbound foreign direct investment.

The way politics are done and influenced, however, may have the biggest direct impact on our business community. We are in the business of changing the world. We’re watching live how some are attempting to do it on the biggest possible stage.

That’s why we held an Election Brief. We had a full house of members getting both the big picture and a sense of the change that is to take place.

Public Affairs Director at Hill+Knowlton Arto Virtanen opened our brief. Things aren’t really that different in Europe, he argued, even though what’s happening in the U.S. seems completely bizarre from a Finnish perspective.

Europe is facing many of the same challenges as the U.S., the most pressing of which are center stage in the current race for the candidacy. Developed countries are seeing growth move to developing ones, we continue to struggle in tackling the increasing threat of terrorism, and immigration is top of the agenda.

Our keynote, Former White House Director of Events and Television Commentator Laura Schwartz, ran through how to understand what’s going on and what we can expect next.

She ended on an optimistic note, adding that “in [her] experience, the overwhelming majority of those following the elections care very much about the overall wellbeing of the country and the world.”

Here are a few lessons that I, as an American living in Finland, took away:

  • Within the Republican Party, we’ve thus far seen a lack of strategy. If you’re not strategic, you can lose a primary, and quickly. This can apply to almost anything we do in life.
  • In order to win you’ve got to take your party with you – a notion that has not been fully embraced by either party in this election so far. This is also true on a larger scale: you can’t go it alone.
  • Even if credit isn’t always given where it’s due, what happens in Europe matters for Americans. Europe has some power, albeit indirect, in the U.S. election after all. Let’s not forget that.
  • America is a powerhouse in bringing innovation to market. This doesn’t only apply to technology. Innovation can take many forms, including political processes and ideologies.

This August, Amcham members are making a trip to Washington D.C. to compare notes on how advocacy works today.

The Policy and Legal Committees at Amcham are ongoing programs that work year-round, bringing together top talent to enhance and facilitate international business. Advocacy at Amcham is headed by Policy Director Matthew Wood. If you’re interested in getting involved, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

By Anne Polak