• Sweden's news in English
 

'Sweden is a trade-policy superpower'

Published: 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
Sweden moves to scrap debated budget goal
Sweden's Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson at a press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Sweden moves to scrap debated budget goal

The Swedish government announced on Tuesday that it wants to scrap the country's budget-surplus target, aiming to axe a policy that critics consider outdated. READ  

Sweden leads the way in EU's 5G tech race
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the Mobile World Congress. Photo: Björn Ewenfeldt/TT

Sweden leads the way in EU's 5G tech race

The mobile technology race is on with Swedish telecom giant Ericsson set to team up with academics and industry partners to have 5G broadband solutions ready for Sweden by 2020 as the EU pushes for greater connectivity across the continent. READ  

Presented by Greenback
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden

Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden

If you dread filing your US expat taxes each year, you aren’t alone. But Greenback Expat Tax Services can prepare your taxes efficiently, accurately and at a fair, honest price. READ  

Opinion
Why can't refugees travel to Sweden legally?
Migrants rescued in the Pozzallo harbour, Sicily last month. Photo: TT

Why can't refugees travel to Sweden legally?

Refugees should not be forced to make dangerous journeys to Europe in order to seek asylum, argues Liberal Party MEP Cecilia Wikström, who also wants to see other EU states joining Sweden and Germany in taking in more people from war-torn nations. READ  

'Sweden is not any closer to joining Danes in Nato'
Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

'Sweden is not any closer to joining Danes in Nato'

Sweden’s new military co-operation agreement with Denmark should not be seen as a step closer to Nato membership, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has told The Local. READ  

159 miners rescued from fire in central Sweden
Emergency services outside the mine on Tuesday morning. Photo: TT

159 miners rescued from fire in central Sweden

A fire broke out at a mine in Garpenberg in central Sweden at around 9am on Tuesday morning, with 159 people rescued by 10.30am. READ  

Sweden flights delayed as Norwegian row boils
A Norwegian flight grounded in Oslo on Sunday. Photo: TT

Sweden flights delayed as Norwegian row boils

Thirteen flights were delayed or cancelled by Scandinavian airline Norwegian on Tuesday, including four to or from airports in Sweden, amid fears of further chaos on Wednesday when hundreds of Swedish staff could join a strike currently being held by workers in Norway. READ  

Just four protestors at Sweden anti-Islam rally
Four anti-Islam protestors turned up at the rally. Photo: TT

Just four protestors at Sweden anti-Islam rally

UPDATED: Counter-demonstrators dramatically outnumbered anti-Islam protesters at a Pegida rally in Linköping in southern Sweden, with reports that just four people turned up to support the right wing group, while up to 400 others rallied in support of diversity. READ  

Sweden eyes fingerprint scanning to stop fraud
Some passengers are already checked at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. Photo: TT

Sweden eyes fingerprint scanning to stop fraud

Sweden needs to beef up its border security with fingerprint scanning to stop passport fraud, a government inquiry has argued as the country grapples with unprecedented levels of immigration. READ  

Sweden in for 'warmer than usual' spring
Budding Magnolia trees in Lund in southern Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden in for 'warmer than usual' spring

Sweden could be just the place to soak up some sun this spring, as experts predict the country will see unusually high temperatures in March. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Accelerated for Ice Music
Dylan guitarist makes music history in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Eknäs, Nacka
Lifestyle
Madonna set for first Stockholm gig
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
Blog updates

27 February

Editor’s blog, February 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Our most read story this week got picked up by global media from Al Jazeera to..." READ »

 

18 February

The mysterious -s, part 2 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"-s expressing “each other” (reciprocal verbs) You have most likely used this form of the verbs..." READ »

 
 
 
Technology
How you could soon be charging your phone from Ikea furniture
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
Gallery
People-watching: February 27th - March 1st
Business & Money
Ten Swedish start-ups you haven't heard of (yet)
National
How could Swedes' passion for 'fika' help cut nerve disease?
National
IN PICTURES: Swedes in 'ring of peace' protest
National
Why Copenhagen attacks led a Swedish uni to cancel artist's lecture
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Super cute sloth twins charm visitors to Swedish zoo
Lifestyle
Meet Sweden's first woman chef to win a Michelin star
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: February 26th - March 5th
Accelerated for Ice Music
What is Bob Dylan's guitarist doing in northern Sweden?
Features
How well do you know Sweden's top celebrity couples?
Business & Money
Are company boards 'too white' in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: February 25th
Technology
Sweden is dubbed second most 'digital' nation in European Union
National
Why more Swedes want a sex change
National
The return of Sweden's Ace of Base
National
Why has Julian Assange's case been going on for so long?
National
'21' or 'IS'? Swedish police confuse birthday with Islamist extremism
National
Spring has sprung in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Ängelholm
National
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
National
Is Sweden home to the world's oldest living cat?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The life and career of Fredrik Reinfeldt
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why are Swedish Jews worried?
Gallery
People-watching: February 19th-22nd
National
'Racist' bird names banned in Sweden
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Nobel prize to go under hammer
National
Swede named 'Fanny' banned from getting UK loyalty card
National
Spotlight on the Swedes that could be funding Islamists
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Gallery
People-watching: February 18th
National
Is a chocolate crime wave sweeping across Sweden?
National
What we know about the Copenhagen shootings suspect
National
Danish Ambassador: 'We'll live our lives the way we always have'
National
What does this '90s pop act have to do with a former minister?
Lifestyle
How to embrace Sweden's creamy semla bun tradition
National
Did this Swedish hotel really refuse a gay couple?
National
Why are so many escalators down on Stockholm's Metro?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsbacka
Sponsored Article
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

955
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se