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TRADE

Sweden fifth best country for trade: report

Sweden has been ranked the fifth most trade-friendly country in the world, according to a new report.

In a ranking of 121 economies by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Sweden claimed the fifth spot, just behind Scandinavian neighbour Denmark, and one spot ahead of 6th ranked Canada.

The rankings are based on a number of factors, including market access, infrastructure, efficiency of import-export procedures, and the regulatory environment.

The ranking cited Sweden’s “world-class” infrastructure and its “very transparent and efficient” border administration procedures.

The WEF also praised Sweden for the country’s favourable business environment.

But the organization also found that Sweden had room for improvement when it came to the ease of hiring foreign workers and in removing obstructions making it easier for new entrants to access the market.

Singapore and Hong Kong took the top two spots in the WEF ranking, while the United States came in 16th place due primarily to concerns about violence and the threat of terrorism.

The Switzerland-based WEF is an independent international organization committed to contribute to knowledge and solutions to global problems by gathering together corporate leaders and politicians from around the world.

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ECONOMY

Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.

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