Sweden sets out strategy to spur global exports

Sweden sets out strategy to spur global exports
Sweden wants to target growth markets. Photo: AP
Sweden is set to target markets in Asia and North America as part of a major new export strategy, enterprise and innovation minister Mikael Damberg said on Monday.

The government has allocated 795 million kronor in the next five years to boost its sales across the globe, said Damberg as he presented Sweden's new export strategy on Monday. The drive is an attempt to get Swedish exports back into the fast lane.

“The weak development of the Swedish export worries me,” said Damberg.

Trade is a cornerstone for Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's Social Democrat-Green coalition's ambitious target to get unemployment down to the lowest level in Europe by 2020. Around 700,000 people are currently employed in Sweden's export industry.

But while the Nordic country is home to a number of world-famous companies – from Ikea to Spotify – it needs to boost its efforts to connect with growth markets in Asia and North America, said Damber, adding that Sweden must raise its profile on the world stage.

“We need to [work with] regional and local actors to get more international investment to Sweden,” he said.

Enterprise and innovation minister Mikael Damberg. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Another key area of the government's new strategy is to convince more small and medium businesses to export and to make Sweden more attractive to tourists and foreign students.

“But these investments by the state mean nothing if the companies don't match them and seize those opportunities that exist,” said Damberg.

He also called for the country to organize more international sport competitions. 

The new strategy comes as Sweden is attempting to kick-start its economy back into action. In July the Central Bank (Riksbanken) lowered the country's already historically low interest rate even further.

They key rate, the repo, fell to a record low of minus 0.35 percent to try to get inflation up in order to raise the price of everyday goods and services in Sweden which have been stagnant for two years.

But the flip side of the coin is that the weak Swedish krona provides a boost for the export industry, which has also benefited from a stronger European economy. In June total Swedish exports amounted to a value of 108.9 billion kronor – the highest level in several years.

“The market is moving in Germany which is Sweden's biggest market for export. It consists of various kinds of investment goods – Swedish export industry is dependent on solid investment growth,” Robert Bergqvist, chief economist at banking giant SEB, told The Local at the time.