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CHINA

China and Sweden sign deals during Wen visit

China and Sweden signed a slew of trade deals on Tuesday during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Sweden, including agreements with China-owned Swedish brand Volvo Cars and telecom giant Ericsson.

China and Sweden sign deals during Wen visit

Five bilateral trade deals were signed between the two countries, and six agreements with companies.

“We have signed agreements in the environmental technology, railway and road safety sectors,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters.

Among the Swedish companies that clinched business deals were leading telecom equipment maker Ericsson, ballbearing manufacturer SKF, and engineering, mining equipment and tools company Sandvik, Swedish media reported.

Volvo Cars meanwhile announced a memorandum of understanding with the China Development Bank, but did not disclose a sum.

That agreement concerns China Development Bank’s possible financing of Volvo Car research and development programs in the area of efficient energy technology, as well as production facilities in China.

“I am very happy to announce the partnership with China Development Bank Corporation, as it will assist us in realising our ambitious growth plans for the Chinese market and enhance our ability to develop clean, efficient driveline technologies,” Volvo Car chief executive Stefan Jacoby said in a statement.

According to financial daily DI, the agreement will enable the Swedish brand to pursue its ambitious 75-billion-kronor (8.5-billion-euro, $11-billion) investment programme until 2015.

Chinese automaker Geely bought Volvo Cars from US carmaker Ford in 2010.

On Tuesday, Wen visited Volvo Cars’ main plant in Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast, where he toured the factory and watched a crash test performed before travelling to the capital Stockholm later in the day.

Wen was accompanied by 10 ministers during his three-day visit, as well as

business leaders including Geely founder and chairman Li Shufu.

Following his bilateral talks with Reinfeldt, Wen also announced Chinese plans to enhance cooperation with the Scandinavian country in the field of sustainable development.

“The Chinese side is prepared to establish a special loan worth one billion euros ($1.3-billion) to support the businesses of the two sides to engage in scientific research and industrial cooperation and to promote the implementation of a number of priority projects,” Wen said.

Reinfeldt meanwhile said he had raised the issue of climate change with

Wen, as well as the thorny subject of China’s human rights record.

“Even if our cooperation is extensive, there are areas where we disagree. Issues of democracy and respect for human rights are such areas,” he told reporters.

“At our meeting today I expressed concern for the treatment of human rights activists, the difficult situation in Tibet, limitations on freedom of information, not least on the Internet. I also raised the EU’s list of especially important cases,” Reinfeldt said.

Wen responded that “China respects and is committed to protecting human rights and will continue to make unrelenting efforts in this regard, in keeping with the Chinese constitution.”

On Wednesday, Wen was scheduled to meet Sweden’s speaker of parliament and address a Stockholm conference on sustainable development, before departing for Poland, the final leg of a four-nation European tour that has alreadytaken him to Iceland and Germany.

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SWEDEN AND UKRAINE

Ericsson suspends all Russia operations indefinitely

Swedish network equipment maker Ericsson said Monday that it was suspending all of its Russian operations over the war in Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

Ericsson suspends all Russia operations indefinitely

The telecom giant already announced in late February that it would stop all deliveries to Russia following Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

“In the light of recent events and of European Union sanctions, the company will now suspend its affected business with customers in Russia indefinitely,” Ericsson said in a statement.

The company added that it was “engaging with customers and partners regarding the indefinite suspension of the affected business.”

“The priority is to focus on the safety and well-being of Ericsson employees in Russia and they will be placed on paid leave,” it said.

READ ALSO: How has Sweden responded to Putin’s war in Ukraine so far?

Hundreds of Western firms ranging from Ikea to Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s have stopped operations in the country since the invasion, with French banking group Societe Generale announcing Monday it was selling its stake in Russia’s Rosbank.

Ericsson has around 600 employees in Russia, and is a “major supplier to the largest operator MTS and the fourth largest operator Tele2,” a company spokeswoman told AFP, adding that together with Ukraine, Russia accounts for less than two percent of revenue.

As a result, the equipment maker said it would record a provision for 900 million Swedish kronor ($95 million, 87 million euros) for the first quarter of 2022 for “impairment of assets and other exceptional costs,” though no staff redundancy costs were included.
Ericsson is due to publish its first quarter earnings on April 14.

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