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Exporting to Sweden
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Map of Sweden
Sweden is a northern European country and belongs to the Nordic region along with Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.  Nordic countries share historical and cultural backgrounds and share similar languages.   Sweden’s population is just under 10 Million and enjoys a high standard of living created as a result of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits for its citizens. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labour force.   The country’s GDP stands at $354.7 billion (2010 est.) making it the 33rd largest economy in the world. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Privately owned firms account for about 90% of industrial output, of which the engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. Agriculture accounts for little more than 1% of GDP and of employment.

As an EU member country, exports to Sweden must meet all EU customs and duties as well as quality standards.  Kenyan exporters to Sweden may benefit from the EU GSP preferences which guarantees preferential customs and duties.  More information on the EU GSP may be found on the EU trade website http://ec.europa.eu/trade/ and http://europa.eu/ .  Sweden also has the Open Trade Gate Sweden which sits under the National Board of Trade that provides exporters with information on rules and regulations for trade with Sweden as well as investigates barriers to trade with Sweden http://www.opentradegate.se/.   In order to take advantage of the preferential tariffs the goods must be classified with the correct HS code and the EU certificate of origin.    Swedish buyers expect a high level of quality and products that meet the highest product safety standards in line with the EU general Product Safety Directive.  Many Swedish buyers also prefer products that are certified and have Ecolabels such as ISO certification and Fairtrade.  An exporter should be ready to present a Code of Conduct, Quality and Environmental management statements to prospective Swedish buyers.  

The business culture in Sweden is highly professional with English as the business language. Swedes have large personal space and do not usually have too much body contact; a quick handshake in a business meeting is considered a good greeting.  An exporter to Sweden must meet all contracted agreements on time and conclude all agreements in writing.  The Swedish business community places great value on honesty and efficiency; in meetings with prospective Swedish buyers an exporter must be ready to “get down to business” immediately and be honest about the product, price, and timelines for production.  When meeting with a Swedish business person it is to be expected that the person has the authority to make decisions even if the individual may appear relatively junior.   Swedes will often look for win-win solutions in meetings and do not like conflicts, in business negotiations one should remain calm and try to reach agreements in a clam manner without shouting or being highly emotional.  An exporter should be ready to negotiate in a direct and outspoken manner without haggling.
Sweden’s geography limits agricultural production and makes food products a key and necessary import. Thus, a large part of imports consists of products that cannot be grown economically in Sweden, or products that are not produced at all, such as wine, certain vegetables and fruits, sweet corn, rice, oils, raw coffee, tea and cocoa.  Consumption of fish and seafood, meat products, coffee, fresh fruit and vegetables, and cereal products has increased considerably in recent years. Swedish food consumption consists of 90 % processed foods, the remaining 10 % is composed of non-processed products, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, fresh meat and eggs.  The food market has for a number of years been influenced by consumer awareness of health, environmental, and social issues. The majority of foodstuffs imported from developing countries to Sweden are raw materials and food ingredients that are meant for the processing industry, where the products are further processed before being exported or sold locally.
Food importers/wholesalers A selection of the largest importers and wholesalers within the Swedish food wholesale trade.
 Wholesaling activities
• ICA Group
• Coop Group
• Axfood
• Bergendahls Group
 Convenience Store Wholesalers
• Axfood Närlivs
• Menigo
• Privab
 Food service wholesalers
• Servera (Axel Johnson)
• Menigo
• Svensk Cater
• Martin Olsson
 Fresh fruit & vegetables wholesalers
• Saba Trading (Dole)
• Everfresh (Total/Fyffes)
• ICA Frukt & Grönt (ICA)
• Ewerman
 
Horticultural Trade Fairs
Trade Fairs
Place Date
 GastroNord
Stockholm, SwedenApril, every 2nd year
 International Food Fair of ScandinaviaCopenhagen, DenmarkFeb/Mars, every 2nd year
 
Commercial Crafts
Swedes will attach a different value to handicrafts from Sweden than to handicrafts imported from developing countries. Swedish handicrafts are often of excellent quality, but due to the high labour costs, they are also quite expensive. The high prices, though, also limit the size of this consumer segment. Consequently, the large majority of handicraft products are imported from countries where labour costs are lower; often adapted and developed to fit Swedish consumer preferences. There are mainly four market segments for handicrafts in Sweden but also in the other Nordic countries: Seasonal products Seasonal products constitute the largest segment in terms of import value. They cover decorating products used on special festive occasions. The most important holidays in Sweden are Christmas and Easter, when homes are decorated with seasonal ornaments; contrasting with the otherwise simple and practical home decorating style favoured by Swedish consumers. The utility segment  Swedish consumers prefer decorative articles that also serve a practical purpose. People buy products for personal use that address a practical need in the home environment. The articles are bought when the need arises. Examples are baskets in which to store other items, flower pots, and candle holders etc. The art objects segment contains products with an artistic, but no functional value, such as woodcarvings, masks or statuettes. The souvenir segment Swedish consumers may pay a high price for handicrafts domestically produced, while traditional handicrafts from faraway countries tend to be perceived as ‘ethnic’ and fetch low prices.  Most handicraft articles are subject to seasonal changes in fashion. The Swedish market is considered to be among the most trend sensitive in the world, and buyers are always looking for novelty. For example, a traditional basketry design will not be attractive to a buyer who has already had the same design on sale in a former season. Market information and product development are essential to stay attractive in a market where styles, colours and materials change by the season and the year.

Important Websites for exporting to Sweden

www.investsweden.se Invest Sweden
www.scb.se Statistics Sweden (SCB)
www.sweden.se General information on Sweden
www.sweden.gov.se Official information from the Swedish government
www.visitsweden.com Official tourism and travel information

How to Access the Swedish Market
www.agenturforetagen.se Swedish Association of Agents (Agenturföretagen)
www.europages.com Europages – European business directory
www.fairlink.se The Scandinavian Trade Fair Council
www.investsweden.se Invest Sweden
www.kompass.com Kompass – world wide directory with detailed search criteria
www.opentradegate.se Open Trade Gate Sweden – provides foremost developing countries with information on trade rules and regulations
www.stockholmsmassan.se Stockholm Exhibition and Congress Center (Stockholmsmässan)
www.svenskamassan.se The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre (Svenska Mässan)
www.svenskhandel.se/Om-Svensk-Handel/ Swedish-Trade-Federation---Svensk-Handel-/The Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel)
www.svensktnaringsliv.se Confederation of Swedish Enterprises (Svenskt Näringsliv)
www.swedishtrade.se Swedish Trade Council (Exportrådet) – promoting Swedish export 3. Customs Duties, Preferences and Rules of Origin
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/wider-agenda/ development/generalised-system-of-preferences/EU-information about the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)
http://ec.europa.eu/trade Directorate General Trade of the European Commission
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm Directorate General Taxation and Customs of the European Commission, including rules of origin and documentation on the EU
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/customs_duties/rules_origin/preferential/article_839_en.htm

Rules of Origin guide and Form A

http://exporthelp.europa.eu EU Export Helpdesk
www.konsumentverket.se The Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket)
www.tullverket.se Swedish customs (Tullverket)
www.wto.org World Trade Organization (WTO)

Sector specific websites
www.jordbruksverket.se Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) provides information on the rules on import licenses and securities on food products in Sweden.
http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/index_en.htm The EU food safety website “From the Farm to the Fork”. The website contains information on e.g. food contact materials and food labelling
www.efsa.europa.eu European Food Safety Authority
www.naturvardsverket.se Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket)
www.jordbruksverket.se The Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket)
www.slv.se Swedish National Food Administration (Livsmedelverket)
https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/rasff-window/portal EU rapid alert system for food and feed – RASFF Portal database 5. Market Requirements

Legal Requirements
www.cbi.eu Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI)
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/rapex_archives_en.cfm EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products – RAPEX

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/singlemarket-goods/cemarking/index_en.htm EU pages on CE marking
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm European legislation database (Eur-lex)
www.kemi.se The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI)
www.kommers.se The Swedish National Board of Trade (Kommerskollegium) includes the WTO enquiry point for Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and issues
www.newapproach.org The ‘New Approach Standardisation in the Internal Market’ provides information on the standardisation process
www.sis.se Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) the national standards body of Sweden

Sector specific websites
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sustainable-business/corporate-ocialresponsibility/multi-stakeholder-forum/index_en.htm U Multistakeholder Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility
www.globalgap.org GLOBALG.A.P., (formerly known as EUREPG.A.P) 40 Exporting to Sweden
www.globalreporting.org Global Reporting Inititative (GRI ) a sustainability reporting framework
www.ilo.org ILO’s Eight Core Conventions
www.iso.org International Organisation for Standardisation(ISO)
www.oecd.org OECD Guidelines for Multinational Entrerprises
www.swedishchambers.se The website of the Swedish Chambers offers a number of guides to different products and business sectors
www.rainforest-alliance.org Rainforest Alliance
www.unglobalcompact.org UN Global Compact
www.utzcertified.org UTZ CERTIFIED Good Inside – Certification programmes for agricultural products
Exporter Assistance Websites
www.iccwbo.org/incoterms Incoterms 2010 – clarifies the responsibility for arranging and paying for the transport and insurance
www.foreign-trade.com/reference/payment.cfm International Terms of Payment
www.tullverket.se Swedish Customs (Tullverket)  Assistance to Exporters
www.intracen.org International Trade Centre (ITC)
www.sida.se Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
www.swedishchambers.se Swedish Chambers’ trade promotion programme
www.opentradegate.se Open Trade Gate Sweden
 
 
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