• Sweden edition
 
The Local Interview
US envoy gets on his bike to back trade deal
US Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski completes his trans-Sweden bike trip in Stockholm. Photo: The Local

US envoy gets on his bike to back trade deal

Published: 18 Jul 2014 11:22 GMT+02:00

Ambassador Brzezinski's audacious endeavour, aptly dubbed the T-TRIP, was an initiative designed to promote the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a US-EU free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated.
 
As Brzezinski and his crew of burly bikers arrived at the Brooklyn Brewery in Stockholm's Hammarby Sjöstad, marking the end of their Gothenburg-Stockholm journey, they were greeted by family holding home-made "welcome home Daddy" signs, all decorated with shiny colours and sparkling glitter.
 
"It was such an awesome trip," he told The Local.
 
"We met business people everywhere and listened and learned about what their expectations, hopes, anxieties and uncertainties are."
 
 
The 49-year-old son of Polish-born former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski explained that one of the reasons behind the decision to venture outside the comfort of the cities to promote trade was because "trade has local roots but global reach". He especially recalled meeting two women - one trying to build a pig farm, the other a dairy farm.
 
"I remember their dreams and their passion to build a business off the land," he said. "But they are worried and anxious, can they compete?"
 
Despite Sweden's modest population size, the Ambassador pointed out that the country is the 12th largest investor in the United States, making it by some measures the largest trade partner per capita.
 
 
"It's an important catalytic country that can set a great tone in terms of trade and investment," he told The Local.
 
"Also, Sweden is a wise voice on behalf of the West. People listen when the Swedes have an opinion, and Swedes being for the EU-US free trade agreement would be good. And I believe that they are."
 
One of the possible reasons why the rest of the world chooses to listen to Sweden, Brzezinski observed, was the fact that it is historically regarded as a trading country.
 
"Look at the cities we were in: Alingsås, Mariefred, Falköping - those are historical trading cities," he said.
 
"Trade is a part of this country's history and part of this country's future."
 
When faced with questions regarding the concerns that have been raised about potential threats to the environment or impairment of the food product standard, the Ambassador responded firmly.
 
"I will say this: I would never support a free trade agreement that would degrade or diminish the environment."
 
"I am a passionate environmentalist and that's why I'm for the agreement."
 
He added that US President Barack Obama was of the same opinion and would not agree to lowering standards on labour or consumer product safety.
 
 
Brzezinski stated that he thinks Sweden can benefit from TTIP in a lot of ways, especially since there are a lot of small to medium-sized business owners in the country who would be able to expand trade while contributing to trans-Atlantic unity.
 
"That's the kind of world that I want my five-year-old daughter ultimately to be an adult in," he said.
 
During the 580-kilometre biking trip, the Ambassador and his crew had an eventful few days in terms of the wildlife and the weather.
 
"On day one a huge snake went right in front of us. It was one of those poisonous snakes in Sweden," he told The Local.
 
"The hardest day was day four, we'd gone through three hours of rain and truck after truck was going by us. That was easily the toughest moment."
 
Despite the hardships and being the slowest one in the group due to his security detail being much more physically suited for biking such a long distance, Brzezinski was happy with the outcome.
 
"We had so many high-five moments and moments that kind of brought us together. I really appreciate my team for keeping a kind of a pace that I could manage." he said.
 
 
Finally, the Ambassador offered a piece of advice for people wanting to follow in his wheel tracks and bike across Sweden. 
 
"Stay off the main roads, go on the side roads and you will see beautiful Sweden."
 
"Whether the mountains (sic) around Örebro or the fields around Mariefred, or just leaving the port city of Gothenburg, you will see remarkable topography. Get out there and bike."

For more stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Sanna Håkansson (sanna.hakansson@gmail.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
UN criticises Sweden's 'prison' children
The UN says Sweden's young offenders should spend less time alone. Photo: TT

UN criticises Sweden's 'prison' children

The way Sweden treats children living in detention centres has been strongly criticised by the United Nations Committee against Torture, which also suggested some young offenders had experienced violence by police officers. READ  

Sweden economy shows unexpected growth
Sweden's economy is growing slowly. Photo: Shutterstock

Sweden economy shows unexpected growth

Sweden's economy expanded slightly more than expected in the third quarter of the year, according to statistics published on Friday. READ  

Russians intercept Sweden navy 'love texts'
Staff on HMS Vinga and HMS Ulvön are linked to the scandal. Photo: Flickr/V-P Kivimäki

Russians intercept Sweden navy 'love texts'

Private messages sent between staff on two Swedish navy boats who were having an affair have been published in Russia, after a group of radio geeks intercepted the signal used to transmit the texts. READ  

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival
Robbie Williams will headline Sweden's biggest music festival in 2015. Photo: TT

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival

This week Robbie Williams was announced as the headline act at Bråvalla - one of the largest music events in Scandinavia. But the British star has proved a controversial choice for the three day festival in southern Sweden's Norrköpping, which takes place in June 2015. READ  

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'
The Swedish Trade Federation said that three times as many companies in Sweden were staging Black Friday deals in 2014 compared to last year. Photo: AP/The Canadian Press/Justin Tang

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'

More companies in Sweden are rolling out the imported American shopping phenomenon known as 'Black Friday' by slashing prices for post-Thanksgiving purchases. READ  

Skanska quits South America over corruption
File Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT

Skanska quits South America over corruption

Swedish engineering giant Skanska has decided to pull out of the South American market after being dragged into a corruption scandal involving the Brazilian oil major Petrobras. READ  

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election
Former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt exits the stage after the 2014 election loss. Photo: TT

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election

Sweden's Moderate Party slumped at the polls on election day as it lost the jobs, welfare and immigration debate, according to the party's post election analysis. READ  

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup
Chefs at work:Shutterstock

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup

Sweden claimed two gold and two silver medals at the culinary world cup in Luxembourg this week, which features over 100 teams from around the world competing for gastronomic greatness. READ  

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin
Traditional Swedish potato and fish casserole. Photo: Magnus Lundquist/Flickr

How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin

Feeling the need for some comfort food during the cold weather? The dish Swedes call Janssons frestelse is popular during the winter and is often found on the Christmas smorgasbord. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local... READ  

More rats creep into Sweden's cities
Rats like these are common in Stockholm. Photo: TT

More rats creep into Sweden's cities

Sweden is experiencing a rapid increase in its rat population according to the country's biggest pest control company, which says that the growing trend for outdoor food stalls is partly to blame. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On: November 27th - December 4th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin
National
Would you use this app to find a job?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's biggest music festival, Bråvalla
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Blog updates

28 November

St Andrew’s Day and the Way Forward for Scotland (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Sunday is St. Andrew’s Day – Scotland’s national day. It was great to be in Edinburgh this..." READ »

 

28 November

Editor’s blog, November 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers and warm wishes to the rest of you lucky subscribers. We..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
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

844
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
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:
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options