Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Sweden’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $495.6 billion in 2015.
Therefore, exports accounted for about 28.3% of total Swedish economic output.
From a continental perspective, 70.3% of Swedish exports by value are delivered to other European countries while 13.2% are sold to Asian importers. Sweden ships another 8.5% to North America with 2.6% going to clients in Africa.
Given Sweden’s population of 9.8 million people, its total $140.1 billion in 2015 exports translates to roughly $14,300 for every resident in that country.
Sweden’s unemployment rate was 7.6% as of February 2016 according to Trading Economics.
Sweden’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Swedish global shipments during 2015. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Sweden.
- Machines, engines, pumps: US$21.8 billion (15.6% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $15.7 billion (11.2%)
- Electronic equipment: $15.2 billion (10.8%)
- Oil: $8.6 billion (6.2%)
- Paper: $8.4 billion (6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $7.3 billion (5.2%)
- Iron and steel: $5.6 billion (4%)
- Plastics: $5 billion (3.5%)
- Medical, technical equipment: $3.9 billion (2.8%)
- Wood: $3.8 billion (2.7%)
Not one of these top 10 product categories increased in value during the 5-year period starting in 2011.
Leading the decliners were Swedish iron and steel exports which declined in value by -38% from 2011 to 2015. Electronic equipment fell -37%, followed by oil (down -36.7%) and paper (down -30.9%).
The following types of Swedish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Paper: US$7 billion (Down by -30.6% since 2011)
- Machines, engines, pumps: $4.3 billion (Down by -24%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $3.5 billion (Down by -5%)
- Wood: $2.1 billion (Down by -9.1%)
- Woodpulp: $2.1 billion (Down by -6.9%)
- Iron and steel: $2.1 billion (Down by -28.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1.4 billion (Down by -52.9%)
- Gems, precious metals, coins: $829.3 million (Down by -24.8%)
- Base metal tools, cutlery: $599.6 million (Down by -28.1%)
- Copper: $431.7 million (Up by 17.2%)
Sweden has highly positive net exports in the international trade of pulp and paper. In turn, these cashflows indicate Sweden’s strong competitive advantages under the paper product category.
Below are exports from Sweden that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Sweden’s goods trail Swedish importer spending on foreign products.
- Oil: -US$4.8 billion (Down by -57.8% since 2011)
- Electronic equipment: -$2 billion (Down by -299.9%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$1.2 billion (Down by -20.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing: -$1.1 billion (Down by -6.2%)
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): -$1 billion (Down by -16.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$1 billion (Up by 11.5%)
- Meat: -$944.7 million (Down by -14.5%)
- Rubber: -$676.9 million (Down by -38.3%)
- Vegetables: -$606.7 million (Up by 7.3%)
- Footwear: -$604.3 million (Down by -15.1%)
Sweden has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined oil, petroleum coke and gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Sweden’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Sweden to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially in alternative energy sources.
Swedish Export Companies
Twenty-six corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Swedish companies that Forbes included:
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller exporters from Sweden:
- Bulten Sweden (automotive parts, screws/bolts/nuts)
- First Cargo Sweden (automobiles, bicycles, rubber tires)
- Gelita Sweden (gelatin, salted/smoked meat, peptones/other proteins)
- Kappahl (textile footwear, clothing)
- Kendrion Hagalund (automotive parts, smoking tobacco, titanium dioxide pigments)
Sweden’s capital city is Stockholm.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.
See also Sweden’s Top 10 Imports, Sweden’s Top Import Partners, Fastest-Growing Swedish Export Products and Highest Value Swedish Export Products
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 13, 2016
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 13, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on April 13, 2016
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 13, 2016
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Sweden. Accessed on April 13, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 13, 2016
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 13, 2016