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ECONOMY

Sweden’s business sector gives new ministers a chance

Sweden’s business sector is willing to give newly appointed ministers for trade and finance - Pär Nuder and Thomas Östros - the benefit of the doubt, noting that while Prime Minister Göran Persson’s new Cabinet is marked by rejuvenation, there is hardly any change in either trade or finance policies. For the business sector, Persson is bound to remain as the de facto finance minister.

“I hope that Pär Nuder will remember his speech at the conference on economic growth and his positive remarks about small entrepreneurs,” commented Gunvor Engström, president of the Federation of Private Enterprises.

Ebba Lindsö, president of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprises, said she hopes for a more ‘company-friendly’ policy.

“We have a new competition climate so it is crucial that the government acts for growth and that we create more companies. The government reshuffle could entail a revitalisation,” said Lindsö.

Both Nuder and Östros said they would review the tax system and pursue constructive talks with the business sector.

Ericsson forces IT consultants to move to China

Ericsson has issued a clear signal to its Swedish subcontractors: come to China or risk losing your business with us, reported DN.

“This could be taken as a threat but we must view it as an opportunity,” comments Tommy Persson, president of IT consultancy firm Sigma. DN reported that several companies plan to outsource jobs in Asia instead of Sweden.

Atlas Copco expanding in China

Atlas Copco expects to pursue strong sales growth in China next year and is eyeing several acquisition prospects, according to CEO Gunnar Brock on a visit to the country.

“At current pace we expect to grow 30 to 40 per cent in China next year but this will depend partly on the actions of Chinese authorities,” Brock said.

In 2003 Atlas Copco grew by 40 per cent in the Chinese market compared to 2002. Sales in China accounted for 6 per cent of Group turnover last year.

New stores lift trade

Increased tourism, new shopping malls and store establishments are driving trade growth in Sweden, according to a report from the Swedish Research Institute of Trade, HUI, which noted that Swedish trade and commerce grew 4 per cent last year.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri

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SAS

‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers. 

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