The Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland) comprise the world’s 11th largest economy (estimated GDP of U.S. $1.7 billion), and are among the most innovative, competitive, and transparent in the world. Sweden, with a GDP of $511 billion and a population of 10 million, is the largest Nordic economy and boasts a transparent, highly developed, sophisticated and diversified market with few barriers to entry.
The United States is Sweden’s 5th largest export market, capturing 6.4% of Swedish exports valued at an estimated $10.7 billion. Sweden is the 14th largest investor in the U.S. and one of the largest investors on a per capita basis. Swedish FDI in the U.S. amounts to roughly $54.2 billion and creates approximately 211,000 U.S. jobs across all 50 states.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2017-2018, Sweden ranks 7th in the world on the Global Competitiveness Index. This is due in part to Sweden’s export-oriented manufacturing sector, competitive SMEs, and budgetary discipline. Sweden also consistently ranks among the top 10 worldwide for its connectivity, governance, investment in R&D, and business climate (World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index). As such, many foreign firms establish operations in Sweden when looking to enter or expand into the Nordics and/or the Baltics.
Over 1,300 U.S. companies are present in Sweden, and Sweden is the top location in the Nordics for regional coverage. The United States is Sweden’s largest trading partner outside of the EU. In 2017, U.S. merchandise exports to Sweden were valued at $3.73 billion and imports were $10.74 billion, generating a trade deficit of $7.01 billion (up from $5.89 billion in 2016; an increase of 19 percent). The U.S. exported $5.9 billion in services to Sweden in 2016 and imported $3.1 billion, a trade surplus of $2.8 billion.
Major categories of U.S. exports to Sweden include aerospace/defense, automotive aftermarket, telecommunications equipment, healthcare/life sciences, information technologies, safety/security, clean-tech, industrial machines, and renewable energy. More American companies operate in Sweden than companies from any other foreign country, supporting over 72,000 Swedish jobs.
Sweden’s high cost of living, with expensive labor and individual tax rates, are among the highest worldwide. A valued-added tax (VAT) rate of 25 percent applies to the import or sale of most products.
MISCELLANEOUS INVESTMENT FACTS
Sweden participates in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for certain business or tourism purposes for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
Swedes are early adopters of new technologies, Sweden is considered to be an ideal test market, albeit an expensive one. The government has launched a program called Test Bed Sweden to attract innovative technologies into the country for development and piloting.
English is widely spoken, and English is the language used for business communications.
Treaties & Agreements
Sweden and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Arctic Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Sweden also is an observer to the Organization of American States and a participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) program.