A Scandinavian nation in Northern Europe surrounded by Norway to its west, Finland to its east and connected to Denmark via a tunnel that connects its southwest to Denmark, the Kingdom of Sweden shipped US$160.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 14.7% increase since 2015 but a -3.2% downtick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Swedish krona depreciated by -12.1% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -8.8% from 2018 to 2019. Sweden’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 71.4% of products exported from Sweden were bought by importers in: Norway (10.6% of the global total), Germany (10.3%), United States (7.6%), Finland (7%), Denmark (6.9%), United Kingdom (5.3%), Netherlands (5.2%), China (4.7%), France (4%), Belgium (3.9%), Poland (3.2%) and Italy (2.7%).
From a continental perspective, 70.3% of Sweden’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 13.2% were sold to importers in Asia. Sweden shipped another 8.8% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.8%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.5%) then Oceania led by Australia (1.2%).
Given Sweden’s population of 10.3 million people, its total $160.5 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $15,600 for every resident in the north European nation.
Sweden’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Swedish global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Sweden.
- Machinery including computers: US$25.8 billion (16% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $24 billion (14.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $14.2 billion (8.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $11 billion (6.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $10.3 billion (6.4%)
- Paper, paper items: $8.6 billion (5.4%)
- Iron, steel: $6.7 billion (4.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $5.5 billion (3.4%)
- Fish: $4.4 billion (2.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4.1 billion (2.6%)
Sweden’s top 10 exports accounted for well over two-thirds (71.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 18.8% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was the optical, technical and medical apparatus category via a 2.6% gain. Sweden’s shipments of vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 1.6%.
The leading decliner among Sweden’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -11.1% drop, weighed down by Sweden’s diminishing international sales of crude oil year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Sweden’s Most Valuable Export Products below.
Overall Sweden generated a $1.9 billion trade surplus for 2019, reversing the -$4.2 billion in red ink one year earlier.
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 represent 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, paper items: US$7 billion (Down by -4.6% since 2018)
- Pharmaceuticals: $5.4 billion (Up by 32.5%)
- Vehicles: $5.3 billion (Up by 21.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $4.5 billion (Up by 11.4%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $2.4 billion (Up by 2.3%)
- Woodpulp: $2.3 billion (Down by -2.1%)
- Iron, steel: $2.1 billion (Up by 11.3%)
- Wood: $1.7 billion (Down by -7.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $877.2 million (Up by 3.1%)
- Base metal tools, cutlery: $510.4 million (Down by -8.1%)
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 and related products 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$5.7 billion (Down by -27.2% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$5 billion (Up by 7.3%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1.3 billion (Up by 2.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$1.3 billion (Up by 5.9%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$1.1 billion (Down by -7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$929.7 million (Down by -10.2%)
- Meat: -$921 million (Up by 1.2%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$879.4 million (Down by -3.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$874.6 million (Up by 37.1%)
- Footwear: -$821.7 million (Up by 9.3%)
Sweden has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, coal and petroleum gases under the mineral fuels including oil category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Sweden’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels market, but also represent key opportunities for Sweden to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially in alternative energy sources.
Swedish Export Companies
Twenty-six corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Swedish companies that Forbes included:
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller exporters from Sweden:
- Bulten Sweden (automotive parts, screws/bolts/nuts)
- First Cargo Sweden (automobiles, bicycles, rubber tires)
- Gelita Sweden (gelatin, salted/smoked meat, peptones/other proteins)
- Kappahl (textile footwear, clothing)
- Kendrion Hagalund (automotive parts, smoking tobacco, titanium dioxide pigments)
Searchable List of Sweden’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Sweden during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Sweden's Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Medication mixes in dosage||$8,043,614,000||+20.2%|
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$7,942,033,000||-20.8%|
|5||Phone system devices||$4,618,030,000||+2.9%|
|6||Whole fish (fresh)||$3,464,618,000||-8.7%|
|9||Iron ores, concentrates||$2,583,424,000||+8.5%|
|11||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$2,178,556,000||-2.6%|
|12||Uncoated kraft paper||$1,994,112,000||-9.2%|
|14||Computers, optical readers||$1,879,128,000||-5.5%|
|15||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$1,736,462,000||+12.4%|
|19||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$1,416,585,000||-2.6%|
|21||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$1,366,187,000||-0.5%|
|22||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$1,241,724,000||+2.8%|
|25||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$1,033,307,000||+10.9%|
|29||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$938,801,000||+19.3%|
|31||Electrical converters/power units||$858,942,000||-27.2%|
|32||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$855,007,000||+14.3%|
|35||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$819,640,000||-0.4%|
|36||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$815,603,000||+15.7%|
|38||Liquid pumps and elevators||$712,355,000||-4.5%|
|39||Miscellaneous plastic items||$712,042,000||-0%|
|40||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$708,421,000||-0.5%|
|43||Pneumatic hand tool||$640,869,000||-8.1%|
|45||Chassis fitted with engine||$595,718,000||-14.2%|
|46||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$591,145,000||-6.5%|
|47||Nuclear reactors, fuel elements||$585,198,000||-8.8%|
|48||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$547,286,000||+1.5%|
|49||Cellulose fiber paper||$536,841,000||+0.8%|
|50||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$533,423,000||-2.6%|
|51||Ball, roller bearings||$524,661,000||+3.2%|
|52||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$522,878,000||-29.1%|
|53||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$511,903,000||+3.8%|
|54||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$504,336,000||-5.3%|
|55||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$500,070,000||-3.6%|
|56||Vulcanized rubber items||$491,941,000||-4.5%|
|57||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$490,780,000||+7.2%|
|58||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$490,381,000||-3.8%|
|61||Other food preparations||$483,367,000||+5%|
|62||Piston engine parts||$477,430,000||-3.2%|
|63||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$472,108,000||-9.9%|
|64||Iron and steel tubes, pipes||$472,090,000||+711.4%|
|66||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$465,917,000||+21.1%|
|67||Alloy steel bars, rods||$460,261,000||-26.8%|
|68||Fish fillets, pieces||$457,422,000||+0.5%|
|69||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$453,271,000||-1.5%|
|70||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$452,247,000||-5.1%|
|71||Cermet plates, sticks, tips||$446,058,000||-10.7%|
|72||Iron or steel scrap||$444,768,000||-4.5%|
|73||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$420,775,000||-5%|
|74||Granules of iron or steel||$418,878,000||-15.2%|
|75||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$413,810,000||-14.4%|
|76||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$412,636,000||-46.2%|
|77||Newsprint (rolls or sheets)||$406,102,000||-8.7%|
|78||Zinc ores, concentrates||$398,621,000||-22.6%|
|79||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$390,410,000||-11%|
|81||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$387,516,000||-6%|
|82||Tissues, napkins, toilet paper||$385,785,000||-2.7%|
|83||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$379,879,000||+3.6%|
|84||TV/radio/radar device parts||$376,335,000||+58.6%|
|85||Cellulolse pulip/paper making machinery||$375,722,000||-7.8%|
|86||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$374,920,000||-2.4%|
|88||Chemical industry products/residuals||$370,552,000||-1.8%|
|89||Electric motors, generators||$368,180,000||+28.4%|
|90||Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps||$366,609,000||+3.2%|
|93||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$360,406,000||+14.4%|
|94||Electric storage batteries||$355,428,000||-1.5%|
|95||Interchangeable hand/machine tools||$352,776,000||+0.8%|
|96||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$348,828,000||-3.3%|
|97||Other organic cleaning preparations||$345,768,000||-6.3%|
|98||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$344,225,000||-3.9%|
|99||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$326,074,000||+13.6%|
|100||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$320,324,000||-15.1%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$113.3 billion or more than two-thirds (70.6%) by value for all products exported from Sweden during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, Sweden’s total exported goods represent 28.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($563.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 28.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 30.6% for 2015. That declining percentage suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Sweden’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Sweden’s average unemployment rate was 6.469% for 2019 up from 6.283% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Sweden’s capital city is Stockholm.
See also Sweden’s Top 10 Imports, Sweden’s Top Trading Partners and European Union’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 22, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 22, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 22, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Sweden. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Sweden. Accessed on March 22, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 22, 2020