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Sweden - Overview

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Introduction

Capital:: Stockholm
Area:: 450 km2
Total Population:: 9.519
Annual growth rate:: 1.00%
Density:: 23.00/km2
Urban population:: 85%
Population of Malmo (1.340), Stockholm (1.252), Gothenburg (916), Uppsala (130), Västerås (110)
Official language: Swedish.
Other languages spoken: The recognized minority languages are: Sami, Finnish, Meänkieli, Yiddish and Romani.
Business language: Swedish and English are used in business, German is spoken in hotels and shops.
Ethnic Origins:: 90% Swedish, 3% Finnish, 7% Other.
Beliefs: 80% Evangelical-Lutheran. 8 religions are recognized, besides the Church of Sweden.
Telephone codes:
To make a call from: 0
To make a call to: +46
Internet suffix:: .se
Type of State::
The Kingdom of Sweden is a constitutional monarchy based on a parliamentary democracy.
Type of economy::
High-income economy, OECD member
Considered as world’s one of the most highly developed post-industrial societies; highest level of taxation in the world; an economy which is based on the high-technology sector; high unemployment rate since the economic crisis

Economic overview

Highly sensitive to external shocks due to its heavy dependency on international trade, the Swedish economy contracted following the global financial crisis and later the crisis in the eurozone. In 2013, growth was sluggish (around 0.9%) and should remain weak in 2014 since the economic context is still uncertain.

Unlike its European neighbors, Sweden has sound public finances. The public debt amounts to about a third of GDP, inflation is stable, the banking sector is well capitalized and has been little exposed to the sovereign risk of southern Europe. The year 2013 was a transitional year: growth stalled and industrial production fell by 2.5%. In order to prevent a financial bubble and curb debt, efforts have been made to regulate lending. The 2014 budget aims to support economic growth and employment, strenghten student knowledge and skills, increase business competitiveness, reinformce social cohesion and the well-being of inhabitants, protect the environment and climate. It includes measures to reduce taxation in order to boost household consumption. A ministerial law is currently being debated by the Parliament to give priority to the mining industries at the expense of the tourism sector and environmental concerns. as well as the profits of private companies delivering public services funded by taxpayers.

Sweden has one of the highest standards of living in the world. However, unemployment has reached its historical maximum (8.1%). More than one in five people in the 15-24 age group is unemployed. In late 2012, almost 40% of the unemployed were receiving no benefits.

Main industries

Agriculture represents less of 2% of the GDP. The main agricultural products are cereals, dairy products, meat, wood and potatoes. Sweden's harvests make it virtually self-sufficient in terms of food. The country has a wealth of natural resources: forests, iron, lead, copper, zinc and hydroelectric energy.
The industrial sector contributes to slightly over a quarter of the GDP. It is dominated by groups such as Volvo, Saab, Ericsson, ABB, AstraZeneca, Electrolux, Ikea, H&M, etc. Sweden's main manufacturing activities are processing wood, paper, electronic equipment, industrial food processing, pharmaceutical products, etc. The new technologies and biotechnologies sectors are of significant importance in the economy.
The tertiary sector employs more than three quarters of the active workforce, it contributes more than 70% of the GDP and is maintained by telecommunications and IT equipment.

Foreign trade overview

Sweden is very open to foreign trade, which represents more than 90% of the GDP. The EU is reinforcing its position as primary partner. In general, half the exports are destined for the EU and the most of imports come from there. Trade with neighboring Northern Baltic countries and Russia has increased rapidly, while exports to China and India show a substantial drop. Trade in motor vehicles and metals is very dynamic. The government supports Swedish companies' activity in strategic markets.

The Swedish trade balance is positive and should remain so, although the uncertain climate of international trade. In 2013, exports of goods decreased by 7% on the previous year and imports dropped by 6%, reducing the trade surplus from 59 billion SEK in 2012 to 51 billion in 2013. The country must deal with its very strong currency which puts Swedish exports at a disadvantage, plus a drop in export to the U.S. and Europe, whose economies are experiencing difficulties. 

FDI

FDI flows to Sweden slowed down in 2009/2010, due to the global recession, and the country experienced disinvestment in 2010. They recovered in 2011. but remained low in 2012-2013, a trend which should continue. According to the UNCTAD 2013 World Investment Report, Sweden is the 12th largest world investor country and the 20th largest recipient of FDI. It is also among the countries receiving most FDI per capita in the world. Despite the unfavorable international situation, the country maintains a high level of appeal to foreign investors because of its multilingual and qualified workforce, its very high per capita purchasing power, its economy at the forefront of new technologies and innovation and its advantageous tax regime. The government has undertaken measures to develop support for investments through expanding important sectors (biotechnologies and food processing), as well as on rapidly growing markets (Baltic countries, India, Brazil, etc.). There are gaps in the food processing field, as well as in the housing and interior design sectors.
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