Business agency calls for “skilled immigration”

Sweden should be more open to foreign labour and should offer tax breaks to encourage skilled immigration, according to the government's Invest in Sweden Agency.

The agency’s general director, Kai Hammerich, has criticised Sweden’s existing tax rules, which only allow experts in certain areas to enjoy a reduced rate for up to three years, saying that they are ‘arbitrary’.

Many companies complain about the policy, he told Swedish Radio.

“Sweden is a small country and we want to be at the forefront of a number of areas which require a lot of research, development and innovation – so if we can’t do it ourselves, we need influence from outside,” said Hammerich.

But Sweden has recently offered a frosty welcome to skilled labour from abroad. Before the EU was expanded last year, Prime Minister Göran Persson warned of an influx of cheap labour from the new member states, and unions have blockaded building sites which have used Latvian labour.

And with a high level of unemployment among graduates, Hammerich’s view that Sweden should recruit IT and medical researchers from countries such as China and India will be viewed with concern in academic circles.

Hammerich also said that in certain cases it should not be the Board of Migration which decides who should have work and residence permits.

“Above all, the market should decide,” he said to SR.

“If we have big foreign companies who want to do research in Sweden, I believe that they are in the best position to decide what experts they need.”

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Source: SR