• Sweden edition
 

Free trade fears cloud Sweden's embrace of Obama

Published: 05 Nov 2008 11:15 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Nov 2008 11:15 GMT+01:00

“Our hope is that he doesn’t follow through on what he’s said about free trade,” Moderate party secretary Per Schlingmann told The Local.

In the course of his campaign, Obama made a number of statements which raise questions about his support for free trade.

“If we continue to let our trade policy be dictated by special interests, then American workers will continue to be undermined,” he told an audience at a campaign rally in Michigan in June.

“Allowing subsidized and unfairly traded products to flood our markets is not free trade.”

Among other things, Obama also called for trade agreements with tougher labour and environmental protections, as well as a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) linking the US with Mexico and Canada, the benefits of which he said had been “oversold” to the American public.

Obama’s positions worry free trade advocates who fear the president-elect’s less than enthusiastic support of free trade may portend a more protectionist attitude on the part of the United States.

“I hope that [Obama] doesn't follow through on his statements about free trade. I can't say for sure what will happen, but I hope his policies are wiser than his past comments,” said Erik Ullenhag, party secretary for the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet).

Swedish exports the equivalent of about 50 percent of its GDP annually, whereas the US exports goods and services equivalent to about 8 percent of GDP.

As a result of Sweden's much greater reliance on external trade, free trade receives much wider support among most of the country’s major political parties.

Leif Pagrotzky, a Social Democratic trade minister in the government of Göran Persson, admitted that “there was something to” the concerns people had about Obama’s trade stance, but added that free trade has also suffered during the administration of President Bush.

“The Bush administration has put a black eye on free trade. Things have taken a large step backwards,” he said.

“I'm not worried [about Obama’s free trade views] because things can't get much worse, and I'm hopeful they can get better.”

Speaking Wednesday morning to an audience attending an election watch breakfast sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce, Börje Ekholm, the CEO of Sweden’s influential Investor holding company, also cautioned against reading too much into Obama’s past comments regarding free trade.

“I think it’s important that we don’t exaggerate the anti-trade stance of Obama. I think he’s smart enough not to upset the free trade patterns of the world economy,” he said.

“What’s important is having a president with clear and strong leadership,” he added.

As Sweden and the United States, along with the rest of the world, struggle to cope with the fallout from the current financial crisis and the onset of a recession, others emphasized the importance of openness to helping revive the global economy.

“The world, and especially Sweden needs more openness and more free trade,” said Henrik von Sydow, a Moderate member of the Riksdag.

Current minister of agriculture and member of the Centre Party Eskil Erlandsson agreed.

“It’s important to open up so our societies can come together, and not to close things off. I hope that president [Obama] will open things up because we need to the US to help our economy get going again,” he said.

While also expressing his hope that the Obama administration will be able to distance itself from the president elect’s past comments on free trade, Mauro Gozzo, chief economist with the Swedish Trade Council (Exportrådet) didn’t see reason for grave concern, explaining that any movement on trade policy won’t likely happen anytime soon.

“I don’t expect much to happen in the early years. I’m not optimistic, but I’m not pessimistic either,” he said.

Related links:

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
The view of Kebnekaise's southern peak, soon to be the second highest peak in the country. Photo: Stockholm University

Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year

Mount Kebnekaise's southern peak will no longer be the highest point in Sweden by 2015, researchers predicted on Thursday, adding that the change will spell a major blow for tourism in the region. READ  

Gothenburg preschools end school photography
Moments like these are a thing of the past for Gothenburg preschoolers. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Gothenburg preschools end school photography

Preschool managers in Gothenburg have decided to ban class photos at preschools in their municipality, citing the different economical situations of families as one reason for the change. READ  

Presented by Stockholm Business Region
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
This is Stockholm. Don’t worry - be happy. File photo: ASIFE/iStockphoto

Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm

Many consider Sweden a pretty safe place to live, but what if an icicle pierces your little toe or a ray of midnight sun sets fire to your kettle? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered when it comes to sorting out insurance in Sweden. READ  

Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show
The cast of The Cold Swedish Winter.

Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show

The Local chats to UK funnyman Danny Robins about his new radio show The Cold Swedish Winter, which is making waves on BBC radio. He talks elk, moose, and what it means to be a Swedophile. READ  

Allergic Swedes demand separate metro carriages
Peanut photo Shutterstock

Allergic Swedes demand separate metro carriages

A Swedish allergies association has asked Stockholm public transport officials to set aside certain carriages on the metro for those with allergies - banning nuts, animals, and strong fragrances in transit. READ  

Most Swiss want Sweden to be next door
Flag photo: Shutterstock

Most Swiss want Sweden to be next door

Who said there were hard feelings between the oft-confused Swiss and Swedes? A new survey shows that Swiss people would rather have the land of Abba as their neighbour over anyone else in the EU. READ  

What's On in Sweden
Photo: TT

What's On in Sweden

Plenty of events around Sweden to get your teeth into this weekend, with Sunday capped off with a free visual-music concert in central Stockholm. READ  

Elections 2014
Red-greens stay way ahead of Alliance in polls
The Allliance party leaders. Photo: Mats Andersson/TT

Red-greens stay way ahead of Alliance in polls

While the gap between the red-greens and the Alliance is decreasing, the opposition is still far ahead, scoring 48.8 percent of support in a fresh poll. The Alliance came in at 37.7 percent. READ  

Malmö end 14-year Champions League wait
Striker Magnus Eriksson sprints onto the pitch at the end of Malmö's 3-0 win over Salzburg in a Champions League qualifier. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö end 14-year Champions League wait

Malmö overpowered Salzburg on Wednesday night to become the first Swedish team to reach the Champions League since 2000. READ  

Swedish royals boycott Chuck Berry's ceremony
Queen Silvia. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish royals boycott Chuck Berry's ceremony

Members of Sweden's royal family have revealed that they boycotted the Polar Music Prize ceremony on Tuesday, due to Chuck Berry's past conviction for human trafficking. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Politics
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Society
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching August 20th
Society
Did you know the Bronx in NYC was named after a Swede?
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

744
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se