Sweden among winners in future EU-US deal

Sweden among winners in future EU-US deal
Sweden is second in line to benefit the most from an EU free-trade deal with the US, for which negotiations were finally given the all-clear in a move welcomed by pro-business groups in Sweden.

“It will be a win-win situation, a simple fact because this is trade,” Olof Eriksson, spokesman for the Swedish Confederation of Enterprise (Svenskt näringsliv – SNS), told The Local.

With talks now due for next year, the Munich-based non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation has calculated which EU member countries will reap the largest benefits. Top of the list is the United Kingdom, which according to the study could see a 9.7 percent increase in its GDP thanks to a free-trade agreement, with Sweden trailing in second place at 7.3 percent.

At present, $3 billion a day changes hands between Europe and the United States thanks to trade. Statistics Sweden’s trade tally shows that the US is already the fifth biggest export market for Swedish companies. Some 13 percent of imports to Sweden come from the US.

“SNS took the initiative to launch talks on a free-trade agreement between the EU and the US as early as 2007, when it became clear that the prospects for a successful Doha Round was very small,” Urban Bäckström, CEO of the Swedish Confederation of Enterprise, stated on the lobbyists’ website.

“The resistance was then surprisingly compact, the Swedish government rejected the idea.”

The pro-business group on Monday welcomed that the path to future talks had been cleared, after France was granted a culture-sector exception that unlocked the process.

SNS spokesman Eriksson said the immediate benefits for Swedish consumers, were the agreement to be signed in the future, were difficult to predict.

“We can’t say say if goods will be cheaper in Sweden thanks to this future agreement, (but) we can see a definite impact on the economy” Eriksson told The Local, adding that he agreed with the German report about such a deal’s potential to create several hundreds of thousands of jobs across the European continent.

Watch Dr. Ulrich Schoof, Project Manager of the German study, describing consequences of this future free-trade agreement for the world economy.

The Swedish National Board of Trade (Kommerskollegium), which contributed to the Germany study, predicted that a free-trade deal would increase Swedish exports to the US by 35 percent, while American imports would increase by 29 percent.

Food and beverages, insurance, auto, and metals were identified as export business sectors in Sweden standing to benefit from a future agreement.

The effects of a free-trade agreement could be dampened if negotiators agree to retain some trade tariffs, observers warned. The Germany study said that removing all trade barriers between the EU and the US had the potential to unlock double the trade growth than a more limited deal that retained some tariffs could.

Elodie Pradet

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