• Sweden edition
 
'Sweden is a trade-policy superpower'
Sweden's Minister for Trade Ewa Björling (l). File photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

'Sweden is a trade-policy superpower'

Published: 25 Apr 2014 15:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Apr 2014 15:12 GMT+02:00

“If we can be successful in these negotiations and make it the most modern broad partnership agreement then it can also set a standard for our negotiations in the WTO,” Björling told The Local regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

In her opening remarks at a seminar hosted by the foreign ministry in Stockholm on Friday, Björling described the TTIP talks as an “opportunity for trade policy history”, underlining Sweden's importance to the deal. 

"Sweden is a trade policy superpower," she declared, pointing out that the country exports more per capita to the US than any other nation.

The minister’s remarks received broad support from key figures in Swedish industry, including Investor chairman Jacob Wallenberg and the president of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen - LO) Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson.

“We are the world’s most open economy,” Thorwaldsson said. “We are totally dependent on free trade”.

“The TTIP can be a catalyst for improved relations between the US and the EU,” Wallenberg said.

He said that many Swedes believed the US labour market to be "lawless".

“Those of us who have done business in the US recognize that is not the case.”

Björling said the EU and the US still have many cultural differences, underlining that the talks hinged on what she called an approach based on mutual respect. 

“We have some discrepancies, but I think that if we have the political will we can solve it one way or another," she told The Local. "Perhaps in a more modern way, which is more that just saying 'we need to follow your legislation' or 'we need you to follow ours'."

Björling underlined that telecoms, financial services, and public procurement were areas of particular interest for Sweden that the country will push for in the TTIP trade talks. Negotiators hope to reach a deal by 2015. 

Björling was bullish in her closing comments following criticism that the trade talks were being conducted in a secretive manner in the halls of Brussels and Washington.

“I will not listen to people who paint nightmare scenarios of terrible companies locked away in closed rooms. Transparency is key,” she said.

Talking to The Local, the minister explained that the surveillance scandal broken by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 was “not positive” and had been deliberately kept well away from the TTIP talks.

“It has not damaged this process. It is ongoing. On track. We have separated the surveillance discussion in a working group at the Council of Justice.”

While participants at the seminar were generally positive towards the prospect of a far-reaching transatlantic trade deal, Mikael Karlsson from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SNCC) warned that the projected economic growth benefits were incompatible with maintaining existing environmental legislation and standards.

“It just doesn’t add up,” he said, citing a figure of 0.48 percent as a best case scenario for GDP growth.

Ewa Björling conceded that there were differences in standards between the EU and the US, a common theme in the broader discussions involving business figures, but argued that this situation went both ways.

“It is two different cultures, who is to judge what is right and what is wrong. We say that we have much higher standards when it comes to chemicals for example, they believe that they have a higher standard when it comes to testing pharmaceuticals,” she told The Local.

On the subject of public health and the environment, Björling was more forthright.

“We will not waver on health and the environment,” she declared.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Politics
Nuclear freeze agreed by new government
A nuclear power station in Forsmark, Sweden. Photo: TT

Nuclear freeze agreed by new government

Sweden's Social Democrats and Greens Party have announced a coalition agreement to halt nuclear energy development. READ  

International
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' asylum
A Swedish soldier in Afghanistan. Photo: TT

Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' asylum

The Migration Court in Malmö has ruled that Sweden's Migration Board was wrong to reject the residence applications of seven Afghan interpreters without assessing their protection needs. READ  

The Local List
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
Speak Percussion will perform at Connect in Malmö in November. Photo: Connect

Top five winter festivals in Sweden

Autumn has swept into the country and chilly days lie ahead. But there are plenty of winter festivals where you can warm up in the coming months. With tickets already selling fast, here are The Local's top tips. READ  

Business
Swedish Saab plant sheds a third of workers
Workers at the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Photo: TT

Swedish Saab plant sheds a third of workers

Swedish car maker Saab has announced it has axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce. READ  

International
Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale
A Danish site is selling the works that the Swedish state wants destroyed. Screenshot: www.entartetekunst.dk

Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale

Work by controversial jailed Swedish artist Dan Park is on sale online and could reach a gallery in Copenhagen, despite a previous exhibition being pulled. READ  

Society
Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old
Pensioners in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old

Sweden has dropped to second place in an annual index measuring the quality of life of elderly people in 96 countries around the world. READ  

National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
Andreas Fransson, left. Photo: Markus Alatalo

Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche

UPDATED: The bodies of two of the world's top skiers, Sweden's Andreas Fransson and JP Auclair from Canada, were found on Tuesday after they were reported missing in an avalanche in the Andes. READ  

Politics
Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs

UPDATED: The Social Democrats and the Greens have agreed to raise unemployment payments and promised to create more jobs in the construction industry, The Local has learned. READ  

National
Ikea recalls elk pasta
Two types of pasta are affected. Photo: IKEA

Ikea recalls elk pasta

Ikea has pulled two different types of elk-shaped pasta from its stores in Sweden. READ  

Presented by Regus
How to get your own great office in Stockholm
A woman using a Regus workspace. Photo: Regus

How to get your own great office in Stockholm

Stockholm's business climate is hotter than ever, which leaves start-ups and business travellers hunting high and low for flexible office space. The solution is easier than they think. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
Blog updates

28 September

Spoiled Doyle (Blogweiser) »

"What you gotta watch out for in Sweden is the good stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re_EzUe6xpI In Sweden, it’s the good things you have to watch out for. Video on @TheLocalSweden http://t.co/rAb8eGFdTD pic.twitter.com/w37YYwMXy1 — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 29, 2014 " READ »

 

26 September

 (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Autumn swept into Sweden at the start of this week with snow in the north of the country and flooding in the south. As well as a change in the weather, Sweden’s change in political direction became clearer, with Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven formally announcing his party would work with the Greens as..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance 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

852
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
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN