Sweden exported US$155.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects an 11.7% increase since 2016 but a -3.1% downtick from 2019 to 2020.
Applying a continental lens, 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%).
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 2020. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Swedish exports.
- Norway: US$16.4 billion (10.6% of Sweden’s total exports)
- Germany: $16.1 billion (10.4%)
- United States: $12.6 billion (8.1%)
- Denmark: $11.8 billion (7.6%)
- Finland: $10.9 billion (7%)
- China: $8.4 billion (5.4%)
- Netherlands: $8 billion (5.1%)
- United Kingdom: $7.9 billion (5.1%)
- France: $6.3 billion (4%)
- Belgium: $5.4 billion (3.5%)
- Poland: $5.2 billion (3.3%)
- Italy: $4.1 billion (2.6%)
- Spain: $2.8 billion (1.8%)
- Japan: $2.4 billion (1.6%)
- Russia: $1.9 billion (1.2%)
Over three-quarters (77.3%) of Swedish exports in 2020 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Three among Sweden’s top customers increased their consumption of Swedish imports from 2019 to 2020: China (up 12%), Denmark (up 6.2) and the United States (up 3.2%).
Double-digit reductions year over year belong to Belgium (down -13.7%), Russia (down -12.4%) and Spain (down -10.2%).
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$11.1 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2020)
- Netherlands: -$6.8 billion
- Poland: -$1.9 billion
- Czech Republic: -$1.3 billion
- Belgium: -$1.2 billion
- Vietnam: -$1.2 billion
- Ireland: -$1.1 billion
- Hungary: -$1.1 billion
- Italy: -$1.1 billion
- China: -$806.9 million
Among Sweden’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Swedish deficits with Belgium (up 87.5%), Poland (up 23.3%) and Vietnam (up 20%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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.
Overall Sweden generated a $5.8 billion trade surplus for 2020, up from $1.6 billion in black ink one year earlier.
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$8.5 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2020)
- Finland: $3.9 billion
- Norway: $3 billion
- Denmark: $1.5 billion
- Japan: $1.5 billion
- Australia: $1.4 billion
- United Kingdom: $1.4 billion
- Saudi Arabia: $955 million
- United Arab Emirates: $902.2 million
- Egypt: $827.4 million
Among Sweden’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Swedish surpluses with Denmark (up 169.6%), Japan (up 52.7%) and Norway (up 27.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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
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 Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Wikipedia, Sweden. Accessed on March 29, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 29, 2021