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Ministers on this page who have changed areas of responsibility

Betweeen 21 January 2021 - 30 November 2021 he was Minister for Home Affairs.

Between 03 October 2014 – 21 January 2021 he was Minister for Enterprise and Innovation.

Ministers on this page who have changed areas of responsibility

Betweeen 21 January 2021 - 30 November 2021 he was Minister for Home Affairs.

Between 03 October 2014 – 21 January 2021 he was Minister for Enterprise and Innovation.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 30 November 2021 he was Prime Minister. 

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 30 November 2021 he was Prime Minister. 

“Worrying that Swedish exports are losing market shares”

Published Updated

Dagens Nyheter 6 februari 2015

Four challenges. Swedish exports are too EU-oriented. Too few small companies export their goods and services, and exports are too low in the value chain. In addition, we are threatened by a growing protectionism, write Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg.

Globalisation means that the economies in countries throughout the world are becoming increasingly closely interwoven. For a small, export-dependent country such as Sweden, this creates major opportunities. Exports are a linchpin of our economy; they create growth, employment and greater prosperity.

The Government’s overarching objective is to increase the number of people in employment and the number of hours worked to such an extent that we achieve the lowest unemployment in the EU by 2020. Sweden’s exports of goods and services will play a key role in how well we succeed in this.

Exports of goods are currently worth SEK 1 127 billion and exports of services are worth approximately SEK 500 billion. This corresponds to almost half of Sweden’s gross domestic product. In simple terms, we can say that around half of what we produce in Sweden is exported.

However, in view of the fact that trade is so important for Sweden’s welfare, it is worrying that it has shown weak growth. In recent years, Sweden’s GDP has been driven by consumption, not exports. Between 2000 and 2013, Sweden’s export growth was 93 per cent measured in US dollars. This can be compared with global export growth of 166 per cent.

The state of Swedish exports worries us. The figures may show a certain rise over time, but compared with other countries’ export growth and looking at the prospects in the longer term, the situation is troubling. Put simply, Sweden finds itself in the foreign trade ‘comfort zone’. Of Sweden’s exports, 70 per cent go to the EU internal market. Trade with our closest neighbours is very significant in this regard, and it is important for our economy. But we consider that trade in the internal market needs to be supplemented so that Sweden as an export nation does not lose market shares.

We have identified four challenges for Sweden’s foreign trade:

  • Swedish exports do not focus enough on the new growth markets in Asia.
  • Far too few small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) export their goods and services.
  • Swedish exports must, to a greater extent, comprise downstream goods and services, to help create growth and jobs in Sweden.
  • Protectionist tendencies in other parts of the world, not least the G20 countries, risk having a negative impact on Swedish exports.

1.
The first challenge is that Swedish exports do not focus enough on new growth markets in Asia, Africa and South America. A large proportion of current exports of goods and services go to the EU. It is natural that we export most to our neighbouring countries, but the fact that Sweden does not have much trade with other parts of the world means that we have not been able to make full use of the growth generated in the new growth countries, especially in Asia.

The fact that the economies in the EU have not picked up speed has direct consequences for Swedish export companies. Sweden would gain from increased exports to parts of the world where economies are actually growing. Up to 2020, Asia is expected to account for almost half of the world’s combined economic growth.

New development trends are emerging on the horizon, with a number of growth markets growing strong and starting to pave the way for a new world order. This is not about a strict shift from west to east or from north to south; rather, it means that we will be living and working in a global economy, with more economic centres around the world. This, of course, brings with it both challenges and opportunities for Swedish companies.

2.
The second challenge is that by far too few SMEs export their goods and services. Small companies now enjoy entirely new opportunities for exports. Thanks to technological developments and internationalisation, even a small company can, with the right product, make sales on the international market. However, when it comes to the level of internationalisation among small and medium-sized enterprises in the form of foreign trade, our SMEs perform relatively well compared with the EU average, but compared with countries in our immediate neighbourhood we see that we perform less well than Germany, and substantially worse than Denmark.

Since many new jobs are created in small and medium-sized enterprises, it is extremely important that SMEs also increase their exports. Studies suggest that SMEs that start to export also increase their number of employees.

3.
The third challenge lies in the fact that too small a proportion of Swedish exports consists of goods and services high up the value chain that help create jobs and growth and thereby ensure our prosperity. The higher up the value chain our exports are, the more profitable they are. The service industries have become increasingly important for manufacturing, and help create value in processing. To ensure growth and jobs, goods and services higher up the value chain need to constitute a larger proportion of exports.

4.
The fourth challenge to Swedish exports is the increasing protectionism that we are seeing in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Sweden is a country that supports free trade and stands up for free and fair global trade. The Swedish Government believes that it is important to dismantle trade barriers, while at the same time standing up for the environment, employees’ interests and people’s health. The current negotiations between the EU and the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could create the world’s largest regional free trade area. Together, the EU and the US account for approximately half of the world’s GDP and a third of global trade flows. Once negotiated, the TTIP will serve as a model for future free trade agreements around the world. The Government’s goal is to achieve as ambitious a result as possible to support growth and employment – without impairing protection of the environment, the interests of wage earners and the health of people and animals. For this reason, it is important that the TTIP is a deep and comprehensive agreement that respects democratic decisions.

Developing trade relations with other parts of the world is high on this Government’s agenda. Our international visits therefore have a clear focus on increasing Sweden’s exports.

Sweden cannot afford to let exports take a back seat. They are far too important for jobs and growth in our country. For this reason we are now launching a project for a new export strategy that will tackle the increasingly exciting challenges facing Swedish foreign trade. However, we do not think that a national export strategy is a matter only for politicians and officials at the Government Offices. Sweden’s new export strategy will therefore be drafted in collaboration with the country’s entrepreneurs. The work is now beginning, and we will be inviting representatives of all of the different business sectors to work with us to produce a strategy that will provide a boost for Swedish exports.

Ministers on this page who have changed areas of responsibility

Betweeen 21 January 2021 - 30 November 2021 he was Minister for Home Affairs.

Between 03 October 2014 – 21 January 2021 he was Minister for Enterprise and Innovation.

Ministers on this page who have changed areas of responsibility

Betweeen 21 January 2021 - 30 November 2021 he was Minister for Home Affairs.

Between 03 October 2014 – 21 January 2021 he was Minister for Enterprise and Innovation.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 30 November 2021 he was Prime Minister. 

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 30 November 2021 he was Prime Minister.