Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Swedish krona depreciated by -7.6% against the US dollar since 2016 but strengthened by 2.6% from 2019 to 2020. Sweden’s stronger local currency since 2019 made its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 72.7% of products exported from Sweden were bought by importers in: Norway (10.6% of the global total), Germany (10.4%), United States (8.1%), Denmark (7.6%), Finland (7%), China (5.4%), Netherlands (5.1%), United Kingdom (5.1%), France (4%), Belgium (3.5%), Poland (3.3%) and Italy (2.6%).
From a continental perspective, 69.8% of Sweden’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 14.1% were sold to importers in Asia. Sweden shipped another 9.2% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.8%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.3%) and Oceania led by Australia (1.2%).
Given Sweden’s population of 10.4 million people, its total $155.6 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $15,000 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Sweden.
- Machinery including computers: US$24.5 billion (15.7% of total exports)
- Vehicles : $21.3 billion (13.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $15.4 billion (9.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $11.6 billion (7.5%)
- Paper, paper items: $8.4 billion (5.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $7.6 billion (4.9%)
- Iron, steel: $5.8 billion (3.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $5.4 billion (3.4%)
- Wood: $4.4 billion (2.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4.3 billion (2.7%)
Sweden’s top 10 exports accounted for well over two-thirds (69.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 13.7% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales was wood via a 12.1% gain. Sweden’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 9.3%.
The leading decliner among Sweden’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to its -26% drop year over year. That product category was weighed down by Sweden’s diminishing international revenues from 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 $5.8 billion trade surplus for 2020, up from $1.6 billion in black 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$6.7 billion (Down by -4.3% since 2019)
- Pharmaceuticals: $6.2 billion (Up by 14.8%)
- Vehicles: $4.6 billion (Down by -1.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $3.9 billion (Down by -5.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $2.8 billion (Up by 13.7%)
- Wood: $2.3 billion (Up by 29.7%)
- Iron, steel: $2.2 billion (Up by 0.6%)
- Woodpulp: $2.2 billion (Down by -7.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.3 billion (Up by 45.8%)
- Copper: $666.4 million (Up by 108.6%)
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.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$4.8 billion (Up by 1.7% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$4.1 billion (Down by -37.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.1 billion (Up by 88.1%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1.1 billion (Down by -12.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$1 billion (Up by 13.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$1 billion (Down by -12.7%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$887.2 million (Down by -26.2%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$874.7 million (Up by 23.3%)
- Meat: -$853.7 million (Down by -0.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$843.5 million (Up by 34.6%)
Sweden has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the electrical machinery and equipment category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Sweden’s competitive disadvantages in the international electronics market, but also represent key opportunities for Sweden to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Swedish Export Companies
Twenty-six corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Swedish companies that Forbes included.
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller exporters from Sweden.
- Bulten Sweden (automotive parts, screws/bolts/nuts)
- First Cargo Sweden (automobiles, bicycles, rubber tires)
- Gelita Sweden (gelatin, salted/smoked meat, peptones/other proteins)
- Kappahl (textile footwear, clothing)
- Kendrion Hagalund (automotive parts, smoking tobacco, titanium dioxide pigments)
Searchable List of Sweden’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Sweden during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Sweden's Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Medication mixes in dosage||$8,983,276,000||+11.6%|
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$5,504,298,000||-30.4%|
|4||Phone system devices including smartphones||$4,979,767,000||+7.4%|
|7||Whole fish (fresh)||$3,276,589,000||-5.6%|
|8||Iron ores, concentrates||$3,097,242,000||+20.3%|
|10||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$2,193,180,000||+26.3%|
|12||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$2,032,420,000||-6.6%|
|13||Uncoated kraft paper||$1,916,348,000||-3.8%|
|14||Computers, optical readers||$1,833,865,000||-3.4%|
|19||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$1,208,337,000||-14.7%|
|21||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$1,143,493,000||-7.8%|
|22||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$1,110,349,000||-18.5%|
|24||Electrical converters/power units||$1,006,532,000||+16.7%|
|26||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$991,327,000||-4.3%|
|31||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$905,173,000||-3.8%|
|32||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$902,375,000||+10.5%|
|35||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$828,117,000||+0.8%|
|38||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$775,425,000||+88.5%|
|39||Miscellaneous plastic items||$736,983,000||+2.8%|
|40||Liquid pumps and elevators||$731,289,000||+2.5%|
|41||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$721,392,000||-15.4%|
|42||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$687,737,000||-2.8%|
|43||Nuclear reactors, fuel elements||$673,526,000||+15.4%|
|44||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$660,034,000||+11.2%|
|45||Pneumatic hand tool||$649,250,000||+1.4%|
|46||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$625,252,000||+14.1%|
|48||Cellulose fiber paper||$582,003,000||+8.4%|
|49||Other food preparations||$581,127,000||+19.7%|
|51||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$556,113,000||+8%|
|53||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$542,790,000||+1.7%|
|54||Ball, roller bearings||$517,296,000||-1.4%|
|55||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$497,938,000||-0.4%|
|56||Fish fillets, pieces||$493,130,000||+7.4%|
|57||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$489,515,000||-3.3%|
|58||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$488,140,000||+7.7%|
|59||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$470,333,000||-9.8%|
|60||Vulcanized rubber items||$460,533,000||-6.4%|
|63||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$440,286,000||+12.7%|
|64||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$439,939,000||-5.9%|
|65||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$436,630,000||-7.4%|
|67||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$427,812,000||-5.6%|
|68||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$423,154,000||-13.9%|
|69||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$420,682,000||-6.9%|
|70||Unrecorded sound media||$420,238,000||+39.8%|
|71||Iron or steel scrap||$414,602,000||-6.9%|
|72||Machinery to make pulp from fibrous cellulosic material||$408,185,000||+8.6%|
|73||Granules of iron or steel||$401,573,000||-2.9%|
|74||Tissues, napkins, toilet paper||$399,870,000||+3.6%|
|75||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$393,658,000||+2.6%|
|76||Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps||$392,943,000||+7.1%|
|77||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$390,822,000||+0.8%|
|78||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$390,086,000||-7.1%|
|79||Chassis fitted with engine||$389,827,000||-34.4%|
|80||Alloy steel bars, rods||$384,974,000||-16.2%|
|81||Chemical industry products/residuals||$378,690,000||+2.1%|
|82||Pig iron granules, powders||$376,888,000||-10%|
|83||Piston engine parts||$376,385,000||-21.1%|
|85||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$367,400,000||+5%|
|86||Cermet plates, sticks, tips||$363,324,000||-18.5%|
|87||Other organic cleaning preparations||$362,148,000||+3.4%|
|89||Electric motors, generators||$347,857,000||-6.2%|
|91||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$341,668,000||-1.3%|
|92||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$338,903,000||-9.6%|
|94||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$336,205,000||+1.7%|
|95||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$335,561,000||-6.9%|
|96||Electric storage batteries||$329,739,000||-7.3%|
|97||Metal soldering/hot-spray equipment||$328,824,000||+4.6%|
|99||Zinc ores, concentrates||$311,486,000||-21.7%|
|100||Miscellaneous fish fit for human consumption||$304,462,000||-1.1%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$109.3 billion or more than two-thirds (70.2%) by value for all products exported from Sweden during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, Sweden’s total exported goods represent 28.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($551.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 28.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 28.5% one year earlier. 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 8.9% at January 2021, up from 7.2% 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 29, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 29, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 29, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 29, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Sweden. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Wikipedia, Sweden. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 29, 2021