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Speech by Stefan Löfven at Business Forum

Published

Stockholm, 19 October 2015

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Madam President, Ministers, CEOs, business partners, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to welcome President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff to Stockholm today. It is a testimony to the close friendship between our Governments and nations.

I have had the privilege of visiting Brazil many times, most recently for President Rousseff’s re-inauguration ceremony in January.

In my previous role as a trade union leader, I saw first-hand how important Brazil is as a partner for Swedish industry. Our partnership with Brazil is of the highest priority for my Government and this is also why our Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, chose to visit Brazil in May with a large delegation.

We have a long-standing partnership. Swedish enterprises have been doing business in Brazil for decades, some even for a century. Others are new to the Brazilian market. All of you here are part of the broad bilateral relationship we enjoy today.

Former President Lula described our mutual interests well when he said that Brazil and Sweden complement each other: Sweden, a modern, international and knowledge-based economy and Brazil, a resource-rich, dynamic, emerging market and a platform for the rest of Latin America.

Let me focus on three key aspects of our bilateral relationship: trade, innovation and sustainability.

The global economy brings new opportunities and new challenges. Sweden is an exporting country and we will strengthen our position in the global market with a new and active business policy. We have recently presented an export strategy that will help boost exports and enhance the participation of Swedish companies in the global economy.  It will also help attract investments to Sweden.

Open, predictable and transparent trade and investment regimes are key. Goods and services are no longer made in one country and shipped to another. Rather, goods and services are increasingly ‘Made in the World’. Brazilian aircraft company Embraer and Swedish car manufacturer Volvo Cars are good examples of this.

I see great potential for trade between our countries. I would also welcome more Brazilian investments in Sweden.  Swedish investments in Brazil have increased over the past few years and now amount to USD 4.5 billion. Stockholm is a business and financial centre and serves as a regional hub for many foreign companies. It can also serve as a springboard to the rest of Europe. 

 

The President and I meet today to renew and strengthen the strategic partnership between our countries.

The Gripen agreement on joint development and production of 36 new generation fighter jets creates a lasting bond between our nations. This strategic project will deepen and broaden our relations across the board and have positive spin-off effects in other areas.

Innovation is one such area and it is high on my agenda. Our ambition is to make Sweden a world leader in the development of innovative products, services and business models through joint efforts by all relevant stakeholders.  This is at the heart of the new National Innovation Council, where I meet with business, academia and civil society. Our competitiveness depends on our ability to create and make practical use of new scientific discoveries. In short: our capacity to innovate. Continuous innovation and adaptation to new circumstances have made Swedish companies globally competitive over the years. Today, the world is moving into a new industrial era where digitalisation will play a fundamental role. Last year, Stockholm was ranked as the city in Europe with most billion-dollar start-ups, and per capita second only to Silicon Valley as the birthplace of successful internet companies. The importance of digital innovation cannot be overestimated and new digital solutions will be essential for industrial competitiveness. This is an area where we should explore future Brazilian-Swedish cooperation.

Innovation is about finding smart solutions to everyday problems. However, innovation is also about finding solutions to the major challenges of our time and being able to transform them into goods and services in the global market.   Swedish companies should be the ones developing the innovations that the whole world is asking for at a time when we need new and better solutions to reduce emissions. It is good for the climate – and it is good for business.

With the challenges of climate change and the UN Climate Conference in Paris in mind, I would like to emphasise the importance of seeing sustainability as a driver of innovation and development.

A couple of weeks ago, Sweden launched a high-level support group for the implementation of the sustainable development goals in New York. I appreciate President Rousseff’s engagement in the group with nine heads of government. However, if we are to achieve the goals, your involvement – private sector involvement – is crucial.

To attract investments and develop advanced products, a country needs a solid knowledge base. Today, we are pleased to welcome Brazilian students to Swedish universities. We are also strengthening our cooperation in research and development.

The rapid transformation of society will make the development of people’s skills increasingly important. We can see that companies working proactively to promote diversity and gender equality have a stronger culture of innovation and perform better.

New ideas often arise and evolve when stakeholders with different backgrounds and skills meet.

I hope that today’s Business Forum will stimulate new ideas and a productive dialogue on how business can both enrich and benefit from the privileged relationship between our countries.

Thank you.