Sweden: From IKEA to hockey and beyond

| April 24, 2021 | 0 Comments
Rich in forest, minerals and green energy, Skellefteå is home to Northvolt, Europe’s greenest battery factory. (Photo: Ted Logart/imagebank.sweden.se)

Rich in forest, minerals and green energy, Skellefteå is home to Northvolt, Europe’s greenest battery factory. (Photo: Ted Logart/imagebank.sweden.se)

Sweden, like Canada, is a country heavily dependent on international trade. In fact, every third job in Sweden relies on its trade with the rest of the world. Canada is an important and like-minded partner to Sweden, not only in our common pursuit of free, inclusive and fair trade. Canada is also an important partner in promoting democracy and showcasing the success of liberal market economies, not only to our own citizens, but also to the rest of the world. Speaking of citizens, you may not know that in 1985 Canada made Swedish citizen, humanitarian and diplomat Raoul Wallenberg its very first honorary citizen.
Canada and Sweden have much in common: similar cultures and values, including the love of hockey; resource-based economies; stable and supportive political environments with a feminist foreign policy; world-leading academia and extremely advanced innovation ecosystems that together represent opportunities to work even closer together and advance solutions in a number of industry segments that could scale globally. In parallel, Sweden and Canada recently joined forces in discussing the important topic of attracting more women to the mining industry and also held a ministerial roundtable event featuring extraordinary Canadian and Swedish women entrepreneurs.
In the spirit of Alfred Nobel and his famous prizes, the links between innovation, academic research and entrepreneurship are strong in Sweden. There are approximately 130 Swedish subsidiaries in Canada and even more Swedish brands represented through distributors. Several companies have been established in Canada for a very long time as suppliers of machinery and equipment to Canada’s natural resource industry. Swedish brands such as Saab, IKEA, H&M, Ericsson, Volvo, Epiroc, Securitas, Atlas Copco, SKF, Sandvik, Alfa Laval, ABB, Fjällräven and Syntronic, to name a few, probably sound familiar and can all be found here in Canada.
When it comes to trade numbers, Sweden exported $1.5 billion worth of goods to Canada in 2020. The top export products include medicine and pharmaceuticals, vehicles, alcoholic beverages, iron and steel as well as metal products. Canadian exports to Sweden totalled $583 million in 2020 and consisted primarily of copper, machines and appliances, chemical products, fish and crustaceans and scientific instruments. It is worth noting that during 2020, despite the pandemic, Canada’s import of services from Sweden increased by 18.2 per cent.
As part of the green recovery, there are many interesting opportunities for Canadian companies in Sweden. With a strong industrial base and an innovative digital economy, Sweden offers an excellent place for testing, optimizing and commercializing smart industry solutions for global tech companies and startups alike. Sweden is one of Europe’s most mature markets for mobile solutions, data analytics, 5G and AI with a diverse network of sub-suppliers for machinery, tools and parts.
In the area of smart and sustainable transportation, my country has a goal of zero-carbon vehicles by 2030, making Sweden a natural choice for green vehicle development. In order to supply Europe and the world with the green vehicle batteries required, a large-scale lithium ion battery manufacturing industry is forming in the northern city of Skellefteå. The area is of great interest to international tech firms due to the large amounts of available clean energy, coupled with a cool climate and a highly skilled workforce. With the battery manufacturing comes the increasing need for critical minerals and rare earth metals. Sweden has large deposits not only of base metals such as copper, zinc and iron, but also of cobalt, lithium and graphite. Discoveries of yttrium, terbium and cerium, all required for high-tech products, have also been made in Sweden. The mining industry is one of the most advanced in the world, leading the way in sustainable practices and meeting the strictest environmental regulations.
Moving towards a circular and bio-based economy is a critical step on the road to a fossil-free society and sustainable utilization of natural resources. The Swedish forest industry is transforming from bulk orientation to high value-added bio-based materials. A number of innovative companies are using Swedish wood to develop new bio-based materials for barrier films, chemicals, carbon fibre and other applications with industry-changing potential. Swedish research institutions and companies are open to collaboration with international companies in the area of advanced biomaterials research. Opportunities also exist to acquire or work with startups in the bioenergy and biochemical research and business fields.
I welcome Canadian companies to explore the many opportunities Sweden has to offer, and I encourage you to take advantage of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Do not hesitate to contact the embassy if we can assist you.

Urban Ahlin is Sweden’s ambassador to Canada. Reach him at sweden.ottawa@gov.se or at (613) 244-8200.

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Category: Diplomatica

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Urban Ahlin is Sweden’s ambassador to Canada. Reach him at sweden.ottawa@gov.se or at (613) 244-8200.

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