Bordering Norway and Finland and connected to Denmark via a bridge-tunnel, Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Its official name is the Kingdom of Sweden.
Sweden shipped US$166 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure represents roughly 0.9% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
Applying a continental lens, 71.6% of Swedish exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 13.2% were sold to Asian importers.
Sweden shipped another 7.6% to North America. Smaller percentages went to buyers in Africa (1.8%), Latin America (1.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (1.2%) led by Australia.
Sweden’s Top 15 Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Sweden’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. That is, countries that imported the most Swedish shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Swedish exports.
- Germany: US$17.6 billion (10.6% of Sweden’s total exports)
- Norway: $17.2 billion (10.4%)
- Finland: $11.5 billion (6.9%)
- Denmark: $11.4 billion (6.9%)
- United States: $10.7 billion (6.4%)
- Netherlands: $9.6 billion (5.8%)
- United Kingdom: $9.2 billion (5.5%)
- China: $7.7 billion (4.6%)
- France: $7 billion (4.2%)
- Belgium: $6.6 billion (4%)
- Poland: $5.5 billion (3.3%)
- Italy: $4.6 billion (2.8%)
- Spain: $3.4 billion (2.1%)
- Japan: $2.5 billion (1.5%)
- Russia: $2.2 billion (1.3%)
Over three-quarters (76.3%) of Swedish exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
United Kingdom was the only top importer that decreased its purchases from Sweden over 2014 to 2018, down in value by -0.8%. Among the other 14 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 0.4% for Belgium up to 18.8% for Poland.
Sweden experienced an overall -$4.1 billion trade deficit for 2018, swelling 452.1% from the -$750.7 million in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Sweden incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- Germany: -US$12.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Netherlands: -$6.2 billion
- Russia: -$3.3 billion
- Nigeria: -$2 billion
- Poland: -$1.4 billion
- China: -$1.32 billion
- Czech Republic: -$1.27 billion
- Hungary: -$1.063 billion
- Vietnam: -$1.06 billion
- Italy: -$1.059 billion
Among Sweden’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Swedish deficits with China (up 705%), Nigeria (up 82.8%) and Russia (up 48.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Sweden’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Sweden to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Sweden incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$6.1 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Finland: $3.5 billion
- Norway: $3.2 billion
- Australia: $1.5 billion
- Spain: $984.9 million
- Canada: $787.8 million
- Saudi Arabia: $777 million
- United Kingdom: $757.3 million
- Singapore: $722.3 million
- France: $671.1 million
Among Sweden’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Swedish surpluses with France (up 160.5%), Singapore (up 40.3%) and Spain (up 33.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Sweden’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Sweden to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Swedish Trading Partners
Twenty-six corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Swedish companies that Forbes included:
- Alfa Laval (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- Assa Abloy (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- Atlas Copco (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- Autoliv (automotive parts)
- Electrolux Group (household appliances)
- Ericsson (communications equipment)
- Hexagon (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- Sandvik (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- SCA (household, personal care)
- SKF Group (miscellaneous industrial equipment)
- Volvo Group (heavy equipment)
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)
See also Sweden’s Top 10 Imports and Sweden’s Top 10 Exports
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 21, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 21, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 21, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 21, 2019
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 24, 2016