Opinion: Protectionism and nationalism won’t stop startups

Opinion: Protectionism and nationalism won't stop startups
Many Swedish startups think internationally from day one. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Swedish startups have a bright outlook and are keen to grow internationally, despite nationalist trade wars, write business chiefs Daniel Sonesson and Erik Olofsson.

Two strong trends are emerging across the world, in striking conflict with one another. Nationalism and protectionism are growing in the area of politics, with increased tariffs and looming trade wars. But in the area of economics, countries, industries and companies are moving closer together – and to their customers – in ever-growing global networks. In this new world order, Swedish businesses are very optimistic.

According to a survey conducted by Stripe together with Business Sweden, Stockholm Tech Fest and SUP46 at the beginning of summer, more than half (56 percent) of the startups surveyed believe that protectionism and nationalism do not pose any obstacles to their economic growth. In fact, 51 percent are internationally active from day one and another 21 percent within one year.

Considering the limiting domestic market, Swedish startups are usually completely dependent on growing internationally and they are often built on a business concept that requires an international business. It is as if the challenge of the modest home market sparks creativity and energy – which, rightly enough, make Swedish startups comparatively very competitive and successful.

Another reason behind the success is that Swedish startups are very keen on using the latest technology. Of the 59 percent who think it is easier to become international today compared to five years ago, 77 percent say that it is mainly thanks to new tech and 51 percent that it is due to the growth of the global online shopping industry. And 43 percent believe changing consumer habits are also an important factor. From this it can be concluded that Swedish startups are good at exploiting the success of online shopping and taking advantage of all new digital tools to meet the requirements of increasingly demanding consumers.

Not least, it is to do with using the very latest technology to handle payment, quickly and safety, in different currencies and in accordance with several national regulations. Providing the payment options that the customers want is even crucial to the success of the company, according to 46 percent. Another 30 percent believe it is a significant factor. This aspect, of course, becomes even more important when the winds of protectionism are blowing through politics. In conclusion:

– Swedish businesses are often dependent on working internationally from the beginning.

– Despite political challenges, it is getting easier and easier for businesses to grow internationally, mainly thanks to all the tools of new technology, not least when it comes to payments.

– Protectionism, in the form of increased tariffs and the like, cannot stop globalization. Its overall benefits makes it a deeper and stronger trend which is taking place in almost very country in the form of the interaction of consumer wishes and digital development.

Swedish startups seem to be fully aware of this. The confidence they show is therefore very pleasing and points to a bright future for Swedish exports.

Opinion piece written by Daniel Sonesson, CEO of SUP46, and Erik Olofsson, Head of Nordics at Stripe, and translated into English by The Local. It was first published in Swedish by Svenska Dagbladet.

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