That dollar amount reflects a 23.9% increase since 2017 and a 22.5% uptick from 2020 to 2021.
Sweden’s 5 most valuable exported products are cars, processed petroleum oils, medication mixes in dosage¸ phone devices including smartphones, and sawn wood. Combined, that quintet of major Swedish exports represents over one-fifth (21.4%) of the Scandinavian country’s total exports.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Swedish krona depreciated by -0.3% against the US dollar since 2017 but strengthened by 6.9% from 2020 to 2021. Sweden’s stronger local currency since 2020 made its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
Biggest Trade Partners Buying Sweden’s Exports
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 10.5 million people, its total $189.8 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $18,200 for every resident in the north European nation. That dollar metric exceeds the average $15,000 per capita in 2020.
Sweden’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Swedish global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Sweden.
- Machinery including computers: US$27 billion (14.2% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $23.4 billion (12.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $17.3 billion (9.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $13.2 billion (6.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $11.2 billion (5.9%)
- Paper, paper items: $9.2 billion (4.8%)
- Iron, steel: $8.1 billion (4.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $6.9 billion (3.6%)
- Wood: $6.6 billion (3.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $5.5 billion (2.9%)
Sweden’s top 10 exports accounted for over two-thirds (67.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 87.2% from 2020 to 2021. Sweden’s leading export category was propelled by higher international revenues for refined petroleum oils.
In second place for improving export sales was wood: via a 51.8% gain.
Sweden’s shipments of ores, slag and ash posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 50.8%.
The sole decliner among Sweden’s top 10 export categories was the pharmaceuticals group, thanks to its -4.2% drop 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 Produorcts below.
Products Generating Sweden’s Biggest Trade Surpluses
Sweden generated an overall $2.7 billion trade surplus for 2021, down by -50% from the $5.5 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$7.4 billion (Up by 8.8% since 2020)
- Pharmaceuticals: $5.3 billion (Down by -16.1%)
- Wood: $4.3 billion (Up by 79.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $4.2 billion (Up by 47.4%)
- Vehicles: $4.1 billion (Up by 8.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $3.1 billion (Down by -22%)
- Woodpulp: $2.8 billion (Up by 28%)
- Iron, steel: $2.3 billion (Up by 2.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.2 billion (Down by -6.8%)
- Copper: $837.3 million (Up by 24.2%)
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 and related products category.
Products Causing Sweden’s Worst Trade Deficits
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$6.2 billion (Up by 51.3% since 2020)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$5.1 billion (Up by 10.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.5 billion (Up by 64.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1.2 billion (Up by 27.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$1.2 billion (Up by 95%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$1.2 billion (Up by 22.1%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$1.1 billion (Up by 41%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$974.2 million (Up by 7.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$972.5 million (Down by -3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$870.6 million (Up by 5.5%)
Sweden has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the electrical machinery and equipment category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Sweden’s competitive disadvantages in the international electronics market, but also represent key opportunities for Sweden to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Sweden’s Major Export Companies
Twenty-six corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Swedish companies that Forbes included.
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller exporters from Sweden.
- Bulten Sweden (automotive parts, screws/bolts/nuts)
- First Cargo Sweden (automobiles, bicycles, rubber tires)
- Gelita Sweden (gelatin, salted/smoked meat, peptones/other proteins)
- Kappahl (textile footwear, clothing)
- Kendrion Hagalund (automotive parts, smoking tobacco, titanium dioxide pigments)
Searchable List of Sweden’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Sweden during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2020.
|Rank||Sweden's Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Processed petroleum oils||$9,245,592,000||+68.3%|
|3||Medication mixes in dosage||$8,015,015,000||-11.9%|
|4||Phone devices including smartphones||$5,415,874,000||+9.3%|
|7||Iron ores, concentrates||$4,722,070,000||+53.3%|
|8||Whole fish (fresh)||$3,605,151,000||+10.4%|
|10||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$2,728,889,000||+24.5%|
|12||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$2,513,609,000||+23.6%|
|14||Uncoated kraft paper||$2,197,413,000||+14.3%|
|15||Computers, optical readers||$2,155,839,000||+18.5%|
|19||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$1,676,746,000||+45.9%|
|22||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$1,380,491,000||+14.4%|
|23||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$1,335,694,000||+19.7%|
|24||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$1,251,317,000||+38.9%|
|27||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$1,144,073,000||+26.6%|
|31||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$1,075,773,000||+6.9%|
|35||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$954,620,000||+24.2%|
|36||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$888,145,000||+7.4%|
|37||Liquid pumps and elevators||$872,400,000||+19.4%|
|39||Miscellaneous plastic items||$850,244,000||+15.8%|
|40||Electrical converters/power units||$841,909,000||-16.5%|
|41||Pneumatic hand tool||$818,192,000||+26.7%|
|42||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$811,730,000||+18.2%|
|45||Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps||$772,950,000||+99%|
|46||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$748,251,000||+21.1%|
|47||Nuclear reactors, fuel elements||$740,469,000||+8.5%|
|48||Other food preparations||$698,428,000||+20.5%|
|50||Cellulose fiber paper||$665,045,000||+14.2%|
|51||Fish fillets, pieces||$655,582,000||+33.7%|
|52||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$653,262,000||-0.5%|
|53||Iron or steel scrap||$649,353,000||+57%|
|54||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$645,725,000||+19.3%|
|56||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$610,452,000||+9.5%|
|57||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$609,627,000||+51.7%|
|58||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$607,249,000||+36.7%|
|59||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$603,790,000||+21.3%|
|60||Ball, roller bearings||$600,062,000||+16.2%|
|62||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$578,139,000||+24.2%|
|63||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$563,565,000||+15%|
|64||Alloy steel bars, rods||$558,961,000||+44.5%|
|65||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$553,851,000||+26.7%|
|66||Vulcanized rubber items||$544,141,000||+18.9%|
|67||Pig iron granules, powders||$532,247,000||+42.2%|
|69||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$511,264,000||+20.1%|
|70||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$509,794,000||+15.6%|
|72||Granules of iron or steel||$498,946,000||+33.6%|
|73||Zinc ores, concentrates||$493,877,000||+60.3%|
|75||Chemical industry products/residuals||$490,129,000||+25%|
|76||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$487,035,000||+25.1%|
|77||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$474,934,000||+12.8%|
|78||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$467,122,000||+19.6%|
|79||Cermet plates, sticks, tips||$465,741,000||+27.9%|
|81||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$461,139,000||+17.6%|
|82||Vinyl chloride polymers||$455,708,000||+90.8%|
|83||Polymer-based ion exchangers||$451,781,000||+55%|
|85||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$435,163,000||+67.2%|
|86||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$431,586,000||+26.2%|
|87||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$426,432,000||+25.7%|
|89||Electric motors, generators||$423,852,000||+23.8%|
|90||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$421,397,000||+14.3%|
|91||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$416,953,000||-43.5%|
|92||Tissues, napkins, toilet paper||$416,678,000||+4.5%|
|93||Electric storage batteries||$415,326,000||+25.8%|
|94||Other organic cleaning preparations||$413,351,000||+13.4%|
|95||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$408,575,000||-2.7%|
|96||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$405,601,000||+97%|
|97||Machinery to make pulp from fibrous cellulosic material||$401,535,000||-0.7%|
|98||Soil preparation machinery||$395,398,000||+33.8%|
|99||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$390,877,000||+43%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$132.9 billion or more than two-thirds (70%) by value for all products exported from Sweden during 2021.
In macroeconomic terms, Sweden’s total exported goods represent 30.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($616.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 30.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 28.2% one year earlier. The higher percentage suggests a relatively increasing 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 8.8% at April 2022, up from an average 8.533% for 2021 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
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Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 26, 2022
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International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 26, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 26, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 26, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 26, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Sweden. Accessed on May 26, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on May 26, 2022
Wikipedia, Sweden. Accessed on May 26, 2022
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 26, 2022