Since the 1870s, Sweden has evolved from a poor
agricultural country to a country with a high-tech industry,
a very extensive service sector and ever-increasing exports.
The basis for economic development has been large natural
resources, especially forest, iron ore and hydroelectricity,
and the development has been promoted by political
Sweden's gross domestic product (GDP) has grown for a
long time, although the pace has varied and some short
negative periods have occurred.
Although Sweden's population has a strong purchasing
power, the domestic market is still limited. Sweden is
therefore dependent on a comprehensive and well-functioning
Approximately 80 percent of goods exports comprise
industrial goods, largely high-tech. In 2017, goods exports
accounted for 45 percent of GDP; a slightly lower proportion
than the EU as a whole.
The trade balance has shown large surpluses
since the 1990s. Although the surplus has been reduced in
recent years, it represented 21 per cent of GDP in 2018.
International trade in services has increased sharply in
the 2000s, which shows, among other things, that the service
sector has also been globalized. The balance of services
includes payments for international transport and tourism
and also patent and license costs and insurance, and it has
been positive since 2005. However, tourism's foreign
exchange net is negative, which shows that outgoing Swedes
use more currency abroad than incoming foreign visitors do
The current account has shown surpluses since
1994. In 2017, the surplus was 3.3 per cent of GDP.
Internationally, this is a high figure which is considered
to indicate that the country has a robust economy.
Government debt as a share of GDP was just under 26 per cent
in 2018, internationally a low figure. Less than a fifth of
the national debt is in foreign currency.
Economic growth and changes in employment
The modernization of agriculture during the first half of
the 20th century took place in parallel with
industrialization. During the 1960s, industry reached its
largest share of the country's employment. Subsequently, the
share of employed persons in industry has decreased and
employment in agriculture has continued to shrink as service
industries have grown. Sweden has become a service society,
and in the mid-2010s, the proportion of industrial employed
is less than half of what it was in the 1980s.
From the 1940s, and especially during the 1960s and
1970s, the Swedish model emerged, an economic model based on
close collaboration between the state, trade unions and
companies. With a high level of taxation, care, schooling
and care could be extended to everyone in the community. The
public sector has grown and has accounted for a third of
employment over the past 30 years. Other services have also
increased their share of employment, partly as a result of
increasingly extensive privatization, partly by state-owned
companies and partly in schools and care.
The traditional division of employment and companies into
the three main industries agriculture, industry and service
is now less relevant. Above all, the boundary between the
manufacturing industry and service is diffuse. It is common
for engineering industries not only to sell a product but
also to install, service and maybe even upgrade it. Large
companies work closely with many customers by working with
them to develop solutions and produce the necessary
equipment. The concept of technology companies is
increasingly used to capture the breadth of operations as a
company is engaged in technology-heavy operations with both
manufacturing and services.
The globalization of the economy
Major structural changes are still taking place in
agriculture with the closure of smaller farms and conversion
to either vegetable or animal production. The political goal
was previously that Sweden should have an 80%
self-sufficiency ratio. Nowadays, there is no such stated
goal. Sweden is self-sufficient in cereals but imports about
half of the meat demanded, most of the fruit and a
significant portion of the vegetables. Food has increased
its share of import costs. Self-sufficiency is now being
discussed as one of a number of aspects of the country's
Industrial production and, in particular, exports of
input goods and high-tech finished products are still of
great importance for the country's economic development and
thus also for the welfare of the residents. The industry,
including mining industry, energy production and
construction, has retained its share of GDP at the same time
as operations have been automated and employment has
declined. Sweden's large export dependence places high
demands on international competitiveness and makes the
country extra vulnerable to what is happening abroad. The
global financial crisis 2008–09 and the eurozone debt crises
in the 2010s are examples of events that have had a negative
impact on the Swedish economy.
A well-educated workforce and extensive investments in
research and development (R&D) have been important for
increasing productivity and for the specialization of
Swedish business and industry. Swedish companies with
subsidiaries abroad have increasingly made manufacturing and
market contacts to other countries while their R&D
operations have grown in Sweden.
The internationalization of the business sector is
becoming clearer every year and Swedish entrepreneurship
abroad has increased significantly. At the end of the 1990s,
Swedish-owned international groups had more employees in
Sweden than abroad. Now, twice as many work for Swedish
subsidiaries in other countries (1.41 million in 2016) than
for Swedish parent companies in Sweden (500,000). In 2016,
more than 3,200 Swedish-owned groups had subsidiaries
abroad. Nearly a third of these had subsidiaries in Norway
and close to a fifth were established in Finland, Denmark or
the United States. The trend then was an increase in
corporate involvement in China. In 2017, there were close to
14,400 foreign-owned companies in Sweden, varying in size,
with a wide breadth of operations and with a total of
672,400 employees. The smaller companies are mainly in the
service sector, the larger ones there as well as in the
manufacturing industry. The countries that are primarily
involved in Swedish business in this way are Norway and the
Large and small companies
The largest industrial and service companies play a
greater role in the country's business sector than the
corresponding companies do in our neighboring countries. But
large companies with over 250 employees make up only 0.1
percent of all companies. 35 percent of the country's
corporate employees work in large companies; a proportion
that decreased during the 2000s. At the same time, the
proportion of employees has increased in smaller companies.
Companies with fewer than 50 employees account for about
40 percent of the industry's contribution to GDP,
medium-sized companies for about 20 percent and large
companies for 40 percent. Companies with 50 or fewer
employees are significantly more frequent in the service
industries than in other industries.
The largest Swedish companies 2015
||Sales (SEK million)
|Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
|H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB
|Volvo Car Group
|Svenska Cellulose Aktiebolag SCA
|Atlas Copco AB
|ICA Gruppen AB
|Nordea Bank AB
|Telia Company AB
|Preem Petroleum AB
The agricultural land constitutes just under 7 percent of
Sweden's entire land area; In 2018, 2.5 million hectares of
arable land and close to 4.5 million hectares of pasture
land (including meadows).
Agriculture accounts for 1.2 percent of employment, only
0.5 percent of GDP and 5 percent of goods exports. Imports
are significantly larger than exports and the surplus of
imports has increased for almost every year. This applies
especially to animal products, vegetables and fruits.
During normal harvest years, Sweden is self-sufficient
with grain and also has a small export. Only half of Swedish
food consumption is now produced in the country, but the
degree of self-sufficiency is no longer an important
Since the mid-1900s, Swedish agriculture has undergone a
series of radical changes. The cultivated area has shrunk
considerably and the number of people employed has been
greatly reduced. More and more farms have become companies
with large capital turnover, while the number of small farms
has steadily decreased.
The direction of agriculture has changed as a result of
changed consumer habits and changes in agricultural policy
and in international trade and pricing.
Agriculture has become less important in the Swedish
economy. Increasingly, the focus is instead on the
importance of agriculture to keep the landscape open and on
its potential to produce biofuels.
Agricultural conditions and structure
Farming conditions vary greatly between north and south.
The vegetation period is just over seven months in Skåne but
only half as long in northern Norrland. This limits the
cultivation of many crops in Götaland and parts of Svealand.
Soils, soils, topography and other soil conditions also
differ between different areas, which results in varying
fertility and thus large differences in yields for different
crops. Internationally, however, the return on Swedish
agriculture is high, mainly as a result of modern farming
methods and fertilizers. The ongoing climate change means
that the growing season is extended, mainly in the north,
where spring comes earlier.
The agricultural field of agriculture
A large proportion of agricultural land is used for the
cultivation of grassland, green fodder and cereals (bread
seed and feed grain).
The most common cereal crops are wheat and barley.
In particular, wheat cultivation has increased in recent
years. Bread seed is mainly grown on the plains of Götaland
and Svealand, while fodder seed is found throughout the
country. For most crops, the yield per hectare is highest in
Skåne. Crop and green fodder crops occur throughout the
country. Following changes in agricultural policy in 2005,
this area has increased.
The most striking area increase in the 2010s is
responsible for oilseed rape and rape. They now grow on just
over 4 percent of all arable land and are grown on the
plains in the southern part of Sweden. Sugar beets are grown
almost exclusively in Skåne.
Free-range cultivation of vegetables, mainly carrots,
onions and lettuce, is mainly found on suitable, light soils
in Skåne and Halland as well as in Öland and Gotland.
Growing of vegetables has increased as demand has grown and
distribution networks and marketing have developed. More
than two-thirds of all kitchen plant area and most of the
Swedish fruit growing is in Skåne.
In addition, agriculture plays a small but growing role
in the production of renewable energy.
The number of cattle and pigs has decreased as a large
part of the small family farms with mixed production have
disappeared. The change in agriculture in the early 1990s
meant that it became advantageous to switch from milk to
meat production. In 2016, there were only dairy cows on only
3 900 farms. The usual is large-scale operation, and on
average the herds comprise about 80 dairy cows.
Reindeer husbandry is conducted in the three northernmost
counties. Sweden is one of Europe's most horse-proof
countries, but just under a third of the animals still have
the traditional role of labor in agriculture. The breeding
and leasing of riding horses has become increasingly common.
Grazing animals in agriculture are important in order to
achieve the agricultural policy's objectives on the
management and conservation of pastures, open landscapes and
Agriculture's environmental impact
Sweden started early with action programs to reduce the
use of chemical agents such as weed protection, fungal
infestation and pests, and the risks of using them.
The use of fungicides and insecticides has decreased
significantly over the past 25 years. Sales of herbicides
have also been reduced, largely because they have switched
to new preparations used in smaller doses.
A major environmental problem is the leakage of the plant
nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural land to
watercourses in the cultivation landscape and further out to
the surrounding sea, where there will be eutrophication with
serious ecological consequences. The reason for the leak is
that too much nutrition is added in the form of artificial
fertilizers or natural fertilizers.
For many years, the total nitrogen leakage in agriculture
has been reduced, as a result of the agricultural area
decreasing, the proportion of cultivation growing and crops
and cultivation methods changing.
Agriculture is one of the largest sources of greenhouse
gas emissions, which is a consequence of fertilization
(gives nitrous oxide), animal husbandry (gives methane gas)
and cultivation of mullet soils (gives carbon dioxide) and
the use of fossil fuels (gives carbon dioxide). Greenhouse
gas emissions from agriculture have decreased somewhat since
1990, mainly as a result of reduced animal husbandry.
In 2013, 16 percent of all agricultural land was used
with organic production methods. Nearly a quarter of that is
in Västra Götaland County. The land that is converted to
organic farming is mainly used for mowing and for grazing.
Grain is grown at just under a fifth.
Agricultural socio-economic situation
Despite the size rationalization, a majority of
agriculture is still too small to provide a sufficient
standard of living for a household. In wooded areas it is
common for farms to also include forest land that
contributes to their livelihood. However, every other farmer
has his main income from other activities. More than 10,000
farmers also invest in tourism, in-house processing of
agricultural raw materials (mainly milk and meat),
construction work, construction and other services for
individuals and municipalities. The forms of support under
the current agricultural policy are intended to facilitate
such widening activities in order to hopefully maintain a
vibrant rural area.
In agriculture, the average age is getting higher. In
2016, almost a third of all farmers were older than 64
When Sweden became a member of the EU in 1995, this meant
that we also came within the scope of the EU's Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP) with its various goals and support
systems. CAP has been revised several times with
consequences for Swedish agriculture. See further
Sweden is Europe's second most prosperous country, after
the Russian Federation. Two thirds of the land area is
covered by forest. Nearly a fifth of this, however, is
unproductive, such as mountainous forests and areas that are
not productive for technical and economic reasons. There are
also forest areas that are productive but are not used for
regular forestry. This includes mainly nature-protected
areas, but also especially forested pastures, military
exercise areas and urban recreation areas. In total, a
quarter of all forest land is exempt from forestry.
In Sweden, the forest industry (forestry, transport of
forest products and the forest industry) plays a more
important role for business than in any other country in
Europe, apart from Finland. In 2018, it accounted for 10
percent of Sweden's goods export value. In addition, the
forest has a growing importance for the supply of renewable
In all counties, the coniferous forest dominates, but the
proportion of deciduous forest has increased over the last
thirty years. More than four fifths of the coniferous forest
consists of more than 3.5 billion forest cubic meters (m³).
Fir trees are found all over the country, pine forests
especially in northern Norrland. The most prominent forest
counties are Gävleborg and Västernorrland counties, with
land for forestry of 81 and 78 per cent of the land area,
respectively. Skåne counties have at least 35 per cent of
Since the 1920s, the volume of wood in Sweden's forests
has almost doubled. The supply of spruce increased during
the 20th century until the 1970s. Subsequently, mainly
deciduous trees have increased, but also the supply of pine,
while spruce is now increasing slowly.
The conditions for forest production are most favorable
in southern Sweden, where both wood supply and growth per
hectare are greater than in the north. Over the past hundred
years, forests in mainly southern Sweden have also greatly
improved, in terms of both quality and storage. The most
important reason for the growth is that modern forestry is
effective and long-term sustainable.
In recent years, annual harvesting has been at 85–90
million m³, while annual growth has reached 110–130 million
m³, which means an increase in the timber supply by
approximately 30 million m³. The devastating storms Gudrun
(2005) and Per (2007) in southern Sweden meant both
increased departure and reduced growth.
Most of the harvested timber goes to sawmills or the pulp
industry. Nearly a tenth of the timber is used as firewood.
50 percent of the forest area is owned by private
individuals and households. In southern Sweden, it is most
common with privately owned forest land, while state-owned
forests are mainly found in northern Norrland and corporate
forests in southern Norrland. Nearly a quarter of the
individual owners run forestry together with agriculture. It
is therefore somewhat problematic to assess the importance
of forestry to the country's employment. In 2017, forestry,
including management and service to forestry companies, was
estimated to have approximately 17,500 employees.
Forestry requires a white branched transport network.
Since 1991, no logging fleet has taken place in Sweden, and
most of the timber transport takes place by truck. The
importance of the railways has increased since the turn of
the century and they account for just over two-fifths of the
Fishing now plays a very small role for Sweden's GDP;
Among the EU's fishing nations, Sweden comes first in about
tenth place. However, fish and fish products have a
relatively high importance in our foreign trade in food.
Fishing was previously an important binary in many
coastal communities, but has now almost completely
disappeared. By contrast, recreational fishing is estimated
to involve more than 1 million people in Sweden, and fishing
tourism is gaining importance in maintaining a vibrant
The catches were greatest in 1995 and 1998, when
approximately 400,000 tonnes were landed. Then came a
decline that became particularly strong after 2006.
Sweden's membership in the EU means that Swedish fishing
is heavily regulated (see fishing), and Swedish fishing in
the Baltic and the North Sea is governed by the quotas
allocated annually to each member country. At the beginning
of the 2010s, almost half as much fish landed as in 2006,
but in terms of catch value, the decline was slight, as the
value of seafood generally increased. However, some species,
such as cod, have had a large decline in value.
In 2013, seafood accounted for slightly more than SEK 29
billion in import costs and SEK 23.5 billion in export
income. Nearly three-quarters of all imported fish were
moved to another country. The main explanation for this is
that after entry into the EU, Sweden has become a transit
country on the Norwegian fish (mainly salmon) route to the
rest of the EU.
Catching methods, catches and catch areas
Nearly half of the total value of Swedish fishing comes
from sea fishing for fish that live in large shoals
(so-called pelagic fishing). Primarily, herring/herring
and pungent herring are caught, but also sibling fish and
mackerel. Such fishing is carried out by the largest fishing
vessels that use string paddles or floating trawls. This
occurs mainly in the Baltic Sea but also in the Kattegatt,
Skagerrak and the North Sea. The largest fishing boats
belong almost exclusively to Bohuslän, the Gothenburg area
and northern Halland.
The fishery for seafood (North Sea shrimp, sea lobster)
and bottom-living fish, mainly cod, is almost as important
as flatfish. Shrimp fishing involves bottom trawling,
usually with smaller boats fishing off the north west coast.
The same is true for most of the cancer fishing, but cancer
trapping with cages (pewter) is also a much more
environmentally friendly method. The home ports of shellfish
are found in Bohuslän and the Gothenburg area.
Cod is now fished almost exclusively in the Baltic Sea,
mainly through bottom trawling and with large vessels.
Bottom trawling and eutrophication have drastically
deteriorated the living conditions of the cod and the
fishermen are now fewer, smaller and more often injured. For
a long time in the Öresund, trawl fishing bans have
prevailed and there is a viable cod stock. Swedish cod
fishing is carried out partly by a few very large vessels
from the west coast, and partly by smaller fishing boats
with home ports, mainly in Skåne and Blekinge.
Lake fishing accounts for less than 1 percent of the
total catch in the country in terms of weight. However,
there are valuable species such as geese, cyclamen,
freshwater crayfish and eel, and these make up 6 percent of
the total catch value.
Aquaculture (cultivation of animals and plants in fresh
water and along coasts) has very little international scope
in Sweden. These are mainly rainbows, mainly in streams in
the inland of Norrland, and crayfish on the west coast.
Professional fishery change
Fishing has undergone a major structural change.
Commercial fishermen decreased from 16,000 in the mid-1900s
to 4,000 around 2000 and 1,200 at the end of the 2010s. The
number of fishing boats has been reduced at the same rate,
and the fishing ports have been increasingly concentrated to
the west coast. The fishing boats have gradually become
larger and require deeper ports, and old fishing ports are
gradually becoming too small. The large vessels that fish in
deep water, even in the Baltic Sea, can only enter a few
Fishing as a profession remains mainly in the Gothenburg
archipelago. More than half of Sweden's professional
fishermen belong in fishing villages along the west coast.
Fiskebäck in western Gothenburg is the home port for the
largest tonnage by far. The second largest fishing port is
Träslövsläge in northern Halland. Significant ports are also
found on the islands outside Gothenburg, for example Rörö,
Fotö and Donsö. The fishing ports on the southern Baltic are
smaller but important centers for cod fishing. Mainly
mentioned are Simrishamn and Skillinge in southeastern Skåne
and Nogersund in Blekinge.
Danish and Norwegian fishermen land catches in ports on
the Swedish west coast, and Swedish trawlers usually land
20-40 percent of the annual catch in Danish ports, mainly in
Skagen and Grenaa in northern Jutland. Most of it, in terms
of weight, is crisp herring and other low value fodder fish,
which is prepared into fish meal and fish oil.
Over the last few decades, overfishing has seriously
reduced the stocks of herring and cod in the Baltic Sea, the
Kattegat and the Skagerrak. For some of these stocks, the
development has improved and the fishing quotas have
increased for herring and herring in the Bothnian and
Central Baltic Sea. However, the situation is still very
serious for the cod stock.
A negative consequence of the fishing quotas has been
that by-catches are discarded if the allowable quota is
already filled. Since 2015, all caught fish must be brought
ashore. In addition, there have been demands to use
selective gear that does not collect by-catches. The goal of
the current EU fisheries policy is for all fish stocks in
all EU fishing waters to recover by 2019.
Mineral extraction has long been of great importance for
the country's economic and industrial development and is
still one of the important industries. In 2013, the mining
and minerals industry (steelmaking included) accounted for
12 percent of Swedish goods exports, although its
contribution to GDP was just under 1 percent. The mining
industry as a whole is highly mechanized and employs just
over 6,000 people.
Almost all of Sweden, except Öland, Gotland and
southwestern Skåne, rests on the Baltic Shield, which has
abundant deposits of a number of valuable minerals. The high
quality also makes them worthwhile in an international
Sweden accounts for just over 90 percent of all iron ore
mining in the EU and is also one of its main producers of
the base metals copper, zinc and lead as well as gold and
silver. Sweden is thus the leading mining industry in the
EU. However, in the whole of Europe, mining is much more
extensive in the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Extraction of ore now takes place in about fifteen mines,
mostly in northern Norrland. About half of the production is
iron ore and half comes from complex sulfide ores. For a
history of mineral extraction see the mining industry.
In 2011, iron ore mining took place only in the
state-owned mining group LKAB's two large mines in the ore
fields in Lapland (Norrbotten fields): Kiruna and
(Gällivare) Malmberget. The Kiruna mine is the world's
largest underground iron ore mine, where magnetite ore is
mined with high iron content and low pollution content.
Stimulated by growing demand in the world market and thus
rising prices, mining increased in 2012. Subsequently,
another three mines were opened (two in Kiruna municipality
and one in Pajala).
As an iron ore producer, Sweden was in eleventh place in
the world in 2013 (see further steel industry).
At processing plants adjacent to the mines, the ore is
enriched in pellets, which simplifies continued handling.
Via the Malmbanan, the raw material is transported to the
export ports in Narvik and Luleå and to Sweden's only large
blast furnace in the LKAB-owned ironworks in Luleå. Most of
the iron ore production is exported. A large part goes to EU
countries, mainly to Germany, while most of the remainder is
sold to China and other parts of Asia.
Copper, zinc and lead
The extraction has also been shifted from central Sweden
to northern Sweden in the case of sulphide ores. This has
happened in several stages (see further mining industry).
Sweden accounts for about 10 percent of copper production
within the EU. Most of it comes from Boliden AB's huge open
pit in Aitik near Gällivare. There, the ore body is very
large but the copper content is relatively low.
Sweden also accounts for about 25 percent of zinc
production in the EU. The two major zinc mines are
Garpenberg and the Zinc mine, both in Svealand.
Furthermore, Sweden accounts for about 30 percent of lead
production within the EU. Lead is extracted together with
zinc in the Lovisia mine in Västmanland.
Copper and lead are refined at Boliden AB's smelter in
Rönnskär outside Skellefteå.
Silver and gold
Sweden accounts for 20 percent of the silver produced
within the EU. Silver is mined in Garpenberg and to a lesser
extent in the Zinc mine, Aitik and in the Skellefte field.
Gold is the main product from several mines in the
Skellefte field and is also a by-product of Aitik. Sweden is
the third largest producer of gold in the EU, but in a
global perspective, gold production in Sweden is extremely
Industrial minerals and natural stones
In various industries, rock is used as a raw material.
Limestone is of major importance, which is the main raw
material in the cement industry and is also needed in the
manufacture of paper. Limestone is mined on Gotland,
southern Öland, at Siljan in Dalarna and in the west
Gothenburg mountains. In the Masugn village in Kiruna, LKAB
breaks down dolomite, which is added at the enrichment of
iron ore. Refractory clay is exploited in, among other
places, Skåne for the manufacture of clinker and bricks.
Quartz, quartz sand, quartzite, feldspar and sandstone are
used in the glass industry and quartz also in the production
of fiber optics.
Natural stone is broken as blocks or tiles to be used as
building material and monument stone. Different parts of the
country are known for different minerals, such as Gotland
and Öland limestones, diabases from northeastern Skåne,
Hallandsgnejs, Bohus granite and Dala sandstone. The most
extensive is the quarrying of granite, for example paving
The size of energy use in Sweden has changed slightly
between 1970 and 2017. As the population increased during
the same period, this means that per capita energy
consumption has decreased. This is due to more efficient use
and that the composition of the business community has
changed. The use has to some extent shifted from industry
and housing to transport.
The share of the major energy raw materials in the total
energy supply has changed during the same period; the supply
of oil and oil products has been halved since 1970, while
natural gas and, above all, nuclear energy have been added.
Biofuels have gradually been given a more important role.
Fossil fuels account for a significantly smaller share of
Sweden's energy use than is the case throughout the EU. By
contrast, water and nuclear energy account for a larger
In the final energy use in 2017, oil and oil products
accounted for 23 per cent, biofuel, peat and waste accounted
for an equal share, coal and coke for 4 per cent, natural
gas and municipal gas for 2 per cent, while electricity
based mainly on water and nuclear energy accounted for 33
per cent. and district heating, primarily based on biofuels
and waste, accounted for just over 13 percent.
The Swedish electricity supply is very climate friendly.
Electricity production is almost entirely based on energy
sources that do not emit carbon dioxide. About half come
from renewable energy raw materials; 2017 was 41 percent
water energy and 11 percent wind energy, while a small
proportion came from biofuels. Electricity production from
non-renewable raw materials takes place at nuclear power
plants (39 per cent) and to a small extent at thermal power
Electricity production must always be equal to the
electricity consumption, otherwise the system will stop
working and there will be a power failure. To keep the
electricity system in balance, temporary surpluses or
deficits in electricity generation can be compensated by
imports from or exports to our neighboring countries. This
is possible because the management systems are cross-border.
Sweden's dependence on fossil fuels has decreased, but as
domestic assets are insignificant, Sweden is dependent on
imports to meet the need.
Natural gas was introduced in Sweden in 1985 and is used
in the municipalities in Skåne and along the west coast that
are connected to gas pipeline from Denmark. Furthermore,
liquefied natural gas (LNG) is imported from Norwegian gas
fields via a gas terminal in Nynäshamn. Natural gas accounts
for 2 percent of Sweden's total energy supply, but the share
can amount to 20 percent in the management-connected
municipalities. Customers are mainly cogeneration plants in
Gothenburg and Malmö as well as large industries. Natural
gas is also used as a fuel (vehicle gas).
Sweden's oil dependency was significant in the early
1970s. Imported oil accounted for 75-80 per cent of the
entire energy supply. The proportion is now only one third
and the tendency is for the importance of oil to diminish.
For heating, oil has been replaced primarily by biofuel
and waste, and in the production of electrical energy,
nuclear energy is now of the same importance as oil used to
be. The important role of oil is now in the transport
sector. More than 90 per cent of all fuel for cars, trucks
and work vehicles is diesel and petrol. The political
parties' ambitions are that transport systems should be
independent of fossil fuels by 2030, but the changes are
About 80 percent of the crude oil comes from Norway, the
Russian Federation and Denmark, while a small part has come
from the UK and Nigeria. Crude oil imports are greater than
is needed for the country's energy supply. Sweden's oil
refineries have overcapacity and the country has surplus in
foreign trade in oil products. Of the three major oil
refineries, two are in Gothenburg and one in Lysekil. In
addition, two smaller ones, one in Nynäshamn and another in
Gothenburg. See also fossil fuels.
Large-scale electricity generation developed at the end
of the 19th century, after which large hydropower plants
were built further north in Sweden. Electricity played a
prominent role in Sweden's modern industrialization, as the
important basic industries of the forest and steel industry
require a great deal of electrical energy. These industries
have been promoted by the fact that water energy is cheap in
Most of the current large hydropower plants were built in
the 1940s and 1950s. In 1965, water energy accounted for 95
percent of Swedish electricity production. A growing
environmental commitment meant that proposals for continued
expansion of water energy met with heavy criticism. In
addition, there were plans to build nuclear power plants. In
1970 and the years that followed, the governments decided to
save four untouched rivers, the so-called national elves
Vindel River, Pite River, Kalix River and Torne River.
Subsequently, no major hydropower plants have been built in
Sweden. Nowadays, water energy accounts for just over 41
percent of the electricity supply and just over 11 percent
of the total energy supply.
The largest power plants are located north of the
Dalälven River. From there, almost 90 per cent of the
country's water energy comes from. Eight of the sixteen
power plants with an output of 200 MW or more are located in
the Lule River. Demand for electricity is mainly found in
the southern half of Sweden, and it is therefore of the
utmost importance that there is a secure electricity system
throughout the country.
See also water energy.
Modern wind turbines produce energy at a wind speed of
between 4 and 25 meters per second. Wind power can therefore
not be the only source of energy, but must be seen as a
complement to water energy. The most common size of a wind
turbine is 1-2 MW, which is a production that is expected to
reach 160 villas annually.
Wind turbines are mainly located in Skåne, along the west
coast, in Kalmar county and in Gotland and in Västerbotten
county. Since 2007, wind power production has risen sharply
and in 2074 wind energy accounted for 11 percent of
Solar cells and wave power can also be expanded in the
long term, but so far such energy production is extremely
limited. See also wind energy.
Bioenergy is becoming increasingly important for the
energy supply. In 2014, it accounted for just over a third
of the total energy supply. The use of wood for heating has
an ancient tradition, and Sweden's extensive forestry is an
important reason why bioenergy has a greater role in Sweden
than in many other countries. In addition, there has been
political support for the use of renewable energy for
Biofuels are mainly used for energy-intensive processes
in the forest industry and for heat production in district
heating plants, but also for the production of fuels
(ethanol, biodiesel, biogas) and for electricity generation
in cogeneration plants.
The use of different types of biofuels has increased for
each year and in 2017 amounted to about 20 percent
(according to different calculation methods) of all fuels.
Ethanol is obtained by fermentation of mainly wheat and
maize, which is mostly imported. The raw material for
biodiesel is rapeseed, which is even more heavily imported,
mainly from Denmark. Diesel is also obtained from
slaughterhouse waste, mostly imported. Biogas is obtained by
digestion and provides both heat and electricity as well as
fuel. This process mainly uses sludge from municipal sewage
treatment plants, but also households' sorted food waste as
well as waste from the food industry and trade.
Peat now has very little significance as an energy raw
material. Peat is usually regarded as a renewable raw
material, but since no new production takes place in a
societal perspective, peat should be regarded as fossil and
thus a finite energy raw material. See also bioenergy.
In Sweden, there are ores with different levels of
uranium, both in southern Sweden up to Närke and in the
foothills of southern Lapland and in Jämtland. Highest is
the level in Falbygden with Billingen in Västergötland.
Small occurrences are also found in the indigenous mountain
in Inner Norrland. For a few years in the late 1960s,
uranium was mined in a quarry in Ranstad on southeast
Billingen. Nowadays, all the uranium used in the Swedish
nuclear power plants is imported from Canada, the Russian
Federation, Namibia and Australia.
Nuclear energy in Sweden was expanded in 1972–85 and
nuclear energy production was at its greatest during the
1990s, when it accounted for about half the electricity
supply. In 2017, the share was 40 percent of electricity
generation and 32 percent of total energy supply.
Nuclear power plants were built in the southern part of
Sweden, partly because most of the need for electricity is
there, and partly because the northern parts of the country
were previously supplied with electricity from hydroelectric
power stations in Norrland.
Nuclear energy was disputed already during the
construction period and various parliamentary decisions have
since been made on its future role. After the change of
government in 2014, it was emphasized that nuclear energy
will be phased out and that Sweden will eventually use 100%
renewable energy. Nuclear power plants have been faced with
increased safety requirements and thus higher costs. They
are getting older and the need is gradually increasing to
renew them or replace nuclear energy with other energy. See
also nuclear energy.
The industry is one of the three main industries, and as
such it also includes mining, which is treated under
minerals. This article only deals with the manufacturing
In terms of the proportion of employed, Sweden's
manufacturing industry was most extensive in the 1960s.
Subsequently, increased international competition has meant
that several Swedish industrial sectors have almost
completely disappeared; Both the textile and clothing
industry as well as the shipbuilding industry have been
outstripped by operations in low-cost countries and emerging
In other industries, the large companies grew even
larger. Most large engineering companies also increasingly
increased their production abroad through business
acquisitions or the establishment of new subsidiaries. Many
corporate acquisitions during the 1970s and 1980s also meant
that groups that had a large breadth in their operations
grew. Especially in the engineering industry, systems were
developed by domestic and foreign subcontractors.
After the recession in the early 1990s, the large
companies returned to focus on their core business, and they
sold peripheral businesses to achieve better profitability.
Since then, the cost hunt has continued, partly through the
companies outsourcing of operations.
Competition in the world market has intensified as
countries in other parts of the world have developed
industrially, while the global market for advanced
industrial products is steadily growing. Swedish large
companies have therefore focused their operations on highly
developed products where the companies can be world leaders.
Several examples are found in the mechanical industry and
Through its extensive global operations, the country's 10
largest industrial companies play a significant role in
The globalization of business has meant that many
industrial jobs in Sweden are included in groups where
business decisions are made abroad. More than a third of the
industrial employees in Sweden work at foreign-owned
companies. The largest share is in the chemical and
pharmaceutical sectors as well as in the transport industry.
As a large part of Swedish industry exports to European
countries, the weak economic cycle in Europe 2012-14
resulted in weak or non-existent growth for several Swedish
industrial sectors. However, the industry has since
Globally, Swedish industry has a strong position in terms
of mainly telecom equipment and medical technology
equipment, special steels, cemented carbide tools, paper
products and road vehicles.
The food industry is one of the largest industrial
branches and the geographically most widely spread industry
in Sweden. It is found in all counties but has the largest
scope in the three metropolitan counties, where the market
is also the largest.
The industry has a large proportion of small businesses;
in the mid-2010s, more than 40 percent were one-man
companies. However, a few large companies account for the
majority of production, and the two largest account for
close to one third of sales.
At the same time, there is a weak trend that increased
small-scale operations will enter the market with new
products or processes (for example, local microbreweries) or
by refining local or less common raw materials.
Exports from the food industry mainly go to neighboring
countries, but Swedish products such as vodka and cakes are
sold especially worldwide.
Foreign ownership is more common in the food industry
than in the industry as a whole. For example, farmer
cooperative activities have also been internationalized; The
Arla dairy cooperative is now also owned by farmers in three
other countries and the producer cooperative Scan AB has
been a member of the Finnish food group HKScan since 2007.
Food industry companies
|food industry company with the biggest turnover
|Lantmännen's economic association
|AAK Sweden AB
|Arla Foods AB
|KHScan Sweden AB
|Scandi Standard AB
|Orkla Foods Sweden AB
|KLS Ugglarps AB
Large food companies have operations in several stages in
the product chain from raw material processing (in
slaughterhouses, mills and dairies) to the production of
finished foods and also frozen foods. The largest companies
have large-scale manufacturing at a few factories.
Traditionally, the food industry has been dominated by
farmer-owned companies. Several of them have become
prominent in their segments, such as Scan with
slaughterhouses and production of meat products and dishes.
Lantmännen Economic Association also has operations that
span the entire production chain.
In certain segments, such as canned goods and sweets, the
brand may be important in competition in the market. For
example, through many corporate acquisitions, Orkla Foods
has amassed around twenty well-known brands such as Felix
(canned), Abba (fish canned) and Önos (jam and juice).
The forest industry has been one of Sweden's most
important basic industries for more than a hundred years,
and it usually accounts for 17-20 percent of the
manufacturing industry's turnover, value added and the
number of employees. Sweden ranks third among the world's
countries in terms of total exports of pulp, paper products
and wood products.
The forest industry is well spread throughout the country
and is traditionally located to coastal resorts with deep
export ports and along inland waterways. In several
counties, the forest industry accounts for more than one
fifth of the manufacturing industry's employment (primarily
in Västernorrland, Gävleborg and Värmland counties). The
leading forest groups also have extensive operations abroad.
Forest industry companies
|forest industry company with the largest
turnover in 2015
|Svenska Cellulosa AB, SCA
||pulp, hygiene paper
|Stora Enso Oyj
||pulp, packaging board
||pulp, paper, cardboard
|Southern Forest Owners Economic Association
||sawn timber, pulp, paper
The largest sub-industry in the forest industry is the
pulp and paper industry. It was already capital
intensive early on and the processes have become
increasingly high-tech. The production of pulp and paper has
been integrated and the workplaces have become fewer, larger
and increasingly dominant in each place.
Since the end of the 1990s, demand for graphic paper
has steadily declined and exports to the US and
countries in Europe have shrunk. The large forest groups are
facing the change in the paper market in different ways.
Some do this by specializing in special paper grades and
increased production of wrapping paper and gift boxes
(Holmen AB) or coarse packaging material (BillerudKorsnäs
AB). One of the two largest forest industries, SCA, is
developing various types of hygiene paper and tissue, while
the other large forest group, Stora Enso, focuses on new,
renewable biomaterials that can replace plastics and
aluminum in, for example, food packaging.
About 70 per cent of all paper used in Sweden is recycled
and is used as raw material in pulp production for newsprint
and packaging material. Compare pulp and paper industry.
The sawmill industry has also undergone major
structural changes. The number of sawmills has more than
halved since 1980, while production per sawmill has more
than tripled and export volume has doubled. The largest
sawmills are part of large forest companies, which usually
have their own forests and a versatile production. There are
still many private, smaller sawmills that buy the raw
material in the timber market. Compare sawmill industry.
Steel and metal industry
Iron production and export of pig iron, bar iron and
processed products thereof were of major importance to the
Swedish economy for several hundred years. Globally, the
Swedish iron and steel industry is now quantitatively
insignificant and Sweden accounts for only 0.3 percent of
all steel trade. However, Swedish specialty steel companies
have found niches where they have become world leaders, such
as high-performance steels.
The largest market for Swedish steel is found in the
major EU countries, mainly in Germany. Even in the US and in
the last decade China is increasingly importing Swedish
Since the Swedish steel industry is highly specialized,
we have to import a large part of all steel used in the
country, especially standard grades (commercial steel). For
history see the iron and steel industry.
In 2015, there were two ore-based steel mills, the
SSAB-owned in Luleå and Oxelösund. Both manufacture
commercial steel, mostly for export. In Höganäs there is
also an ore-based iron sponge plant. The other ten steel
mills use scrap as raw material and are focused on producing
special steel, mainly for export. They respond to demand in
specific product niches and are prominent in the global
market with highly refined steels and products with high
security and resilience. All of these ten steel mills except
one (in Halmstad) are in Bergslagen. In addition, there are
fifteen steel processing plants, such as rolling mills,
forging mills, wire drawers and pipe mills. The products
therefrom go mainly to the construction industry, but also
to heavy engineering and metal products.
In Sundsvall is an aluminum smelter that produces
aluminum by electrolysis of imported alumina. Älmhult in
southern Småland also has an aluminum smelter, but the raw
material is aluminum scrap, both domestic and imported.
In Boliden-owned Rönnskärsverken in Skellefteå, copper
and lead concentrates are melted and refined from Boliden's
own mines, but also from other deposits. At Rönnskärsverken,
metals are also recovered from scrap electronics, and in
Landskrona there is the only smelter in the Nordic region
for the recovery of lead from waste batteries.
Mineral Vending Industry
The mineral goods industry manufactures non-metallic,
mineral products such as cement, concrete, glass and
ceramics. The largest companies in the industry are those
who make the building materials cement and concrete.
Cement production has been in Sweden since 1874,
in a total of fifteen locations. Mergers and closures
occurred early and now cement is only manufactured in two
places (Slite and Skövde), all with good access to the raw
material limestone. Nowadays, the majority of all domestic
cement comes from Slite in northern Gotland.
Concrete is by far the most common building
material in Sweden. It is made mainly of cement and local
deposits of sand, gravel and stone. In order to minimize
heavy transport of raw materials and finished goods
(pre-mixed concrete, concrete elements), production is
spread throughout the country. The cement and concrete
industry is severely disruptive to the environment and works
with stringent environmental requirements.
The production of glass at the glass mills grew
in the early 18th century. Eventually, three completely
different product categories emerged: flat glass (for
windows, motor vehicles), packaging glass (bottles, jars)
and household, lighting and ornamental glass. Compare glass
Ceramic manufacturing has undergone a major
change. Since the production of sanitary ware in Gustavsberg
was discontinued in 2014, such only exists in Bromölla where
Ifö Sanitär AB has one of the Nordic region's largest
factories for the production of plumbing products. Several
companies with the production of household china, stoneware
or earthenware have ceased. On the other hand, technological
ceramics are increasingly being developed and produced which
are used in high-tech processes and products. These new
materials have exceptional material properties such as
extreme hardness or temperature resistance.
Textile and clothing industry
The Swedish textile and clothing industry was most
extensive around 1950. Subsequently, manufacturing costs
turned out to be lower in southern European countries and
the Swedish textile industry began to shift its production
there. In the early 1990s, many Swedish tea companies moved
their operations to the Baltic States, at least for a time.
Competition was also getting stronger from low-wage
countries in eastern and southeast Asia, primarily China. At
the beginning of the 2000s, no simple textiles and clothing
production was left in Sweden. At the clothing factories
that survived the crisis, fine men's shirts and special work
clothes for, for example, priests were sewn.
The majority of clothing sold in Sweden has been
manufactured in China, Bangladesh or India.
The Swedish tech industry has now increasingly found
niches with the production of new materials and a more
special clothing such as fashion goods, rugged casual wear,
protective clothing and other work clothes. This has
contributed to increased sales and exports each year.
In the textile industry, the production of materials for
technical and industrial use is increasing, for example for
sails, parachutes and machine cloths, and there are Swedish
textile companies that have become world leaders in such
technical textiles. The industry is increasingly focused on
research and development than before and sees its future in
increased use of bio-based materials. The research concerns,
among other things, high-tech materials such as flame
retardant and warning fabrics and better recycling of plant
fibers in used textiles. Compare textile and clothing
The chemical industry here mainly includes the
sub-industries manufacture of basic chemical products,
pharmaceuticals and production of rubber and plastic
The chemical industry is one of the most important
industries in Sweden, especially in terms of exports. In
2018, it accounted for about 12 percent of goods exports.
Productivity is high and value added as well; In 2016, the
chemical industry accounted for just over 15 percent of the
value added of the entire industry. For a history of the
Swedish chemical industry see chemical industry.
The Basque chemical industry is very
capital-intensive with large facilities but with relatively
few employees. Stenungsund is still the main place for the
production of basic chemicals and there are 5 of Sweden's 10
largest chemical companies with plants.
For example, in Stenungsund is Akzo Nobel's ethylene
oxide factory, which manufactures a number of basic chemical
products that are part of the chemical industry as well as
in other operations. In the area, the company also produces
surfactants that are used in, among other things, detergents
and other hygiene products, a niche in which the company is
a world leader. There is also Borealis AB, which produces
ethylene and propylene, including for nearby chemical
companies, as well as insulation materials for cables and
Elsewhere in the country, there are also larger companies
that manufacture basic chemicals. The largest among them is
GE Healthcare Biosciences in Uppsala, which focuses on
organic basic chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry.
During the late 1900s, the pharmaceutical industry
was a rapidly growing industry (see the pharmaceutical
During the late 1990s, the Swedish companies faced
growing problems as it became increasingly complicated,
time-consuming and costly to develop new drugs. The
structure of the industry changed dramatically through
acquisitions, mergers and product specialization. In
2001-14, the number of employees in the industry halved and
the pharmaceutical industry's export share shrunk to 6
percent in 2014.
Nowadays, AstraZeneca's Swedish operations have been
merged to Mölndal (research) and Södertälje (manufacturing).
However, many small, innovative pharmaceutical companies are
emerging in the environments around the university
hospitals. Some of them deliver to large companies under
contracts, others develop ideas for semi-finished products
in companies that are then sold to major players.
The large established companies have continued problems
as a result of the expiration of patents on their best
sellers and the competitive conditions change radically as
the pharmaceutical industry grows strongly in new
industrialized countries with ever-increasing production of
Rubber and plastic products industry. During the
1980s and 1990s, the Swedish rubber industry underwent a
period of rationalizations, international acquisitions and
closures. Five of the six large tire factories in Sweden
were closed down; the largest, in Gislaved, was purchased by
a German company and closed down in 2002. Compare the rubber
The Swedish rubber industry has developed new types of
synthetic rubber and is now focused on manufacturing details
for the international market.
Former tire manufacturer Trelleborg AB has in Forsheda a
large production of rubber and plastic components for the
automotive industry. The rubber and plastic products
industry includes many small and medium-sized companies,
some of them around Gislaved and Forsheda in Småland.
In 2018, the engineering industry accounted for half of
the manufacturing industry's production and just over 45
percent of Sweden's total exports. Imports and exports of
workshop products are almost the same, which characterizes
countries with highly developed industries.
The most important part of the Swedish engineering
industry, in terms of both production and export, is the
machinery industry (including the manufacture of electric
machines). During the 2000s, mainly the telecommunications,
electronics and instrument industries showed strong growth.
The Swedish engineering industry is characterized by the
production of technically advanced products for an
international market. These include larger goods for
households such as white goods and passenger cars, as well
as heavy investment goods for business and infrastructure
such as construction machinery, mining equipment, processing
plants, trucks and communication networks.
The large engineering companies have subcontractors in
several stages, spread both within the country and abroad,
giving long production chains and extensive supplier
networks. Furthermore, input products from various
sub-industries are usually included in a larger and complex
final product. Above all, there are such relationships
between the metal goods and transport industries, between
the mechanical and electronics industries and between the
electronics and transport companies.
All in all, this means that the engineering industry,
with its various parts, is easily influenced by the cycles
of the business cycle and that effects are spread between
industries and between geographical areas, also
internationally. In addition, ownership conditions are also
complex and can be changed quickly.
The focus in a large part of the Swedish engineering
industry means that larger companies must allocate
significant funds for research and development in order to
continue to maintain their competitiveness in the
international market. In addition, innovations must be
spread through production chains and supplier networks. In
different parts of the engineering industry, sufficient
access to trained labor is then required.
Metal product manufacturing is early in the
production chains, between steel mills and assembly
companies, and most of it is delivered to companies within
the country. It is important for small metal suppliers to be
versatile and flexible. The industry is characterized by the
fact that there are many employees in relation to turnover
and value added; Large-scale manufacturing is usually not an
The industry is geographically diverse and includes a
number of small and some medium-sized companies. Three
regions that became known early on for versatile metal
manufacturing are the Mälardalen valley, in particular
Eskilstuna, northwest Småland with, among others, Anderstorp
and Gnosjö and parts of Bergslagen. This is still evident in
the industry's location.
Companies in the metal products industry.
|Metal goods company with the largest turnover in
||cemented carbide tools, steel conveyor belt
|Assa Abloy AB
||lock and security system
||metal sanitary ware
|Lindab International AB
||metal products for the construction sector
||security and storage systems
The telecommunications, electronics and instrument
industries have so far been a rapidly expanding industry and
it is the largest export industry. New technology and new
product generations are being introduced quickly and
production is increasing more than the number of employees.
Product, maintenance and software are often sold as whole
packages, and this is an industry that can be seen as both
manufacturing and service.
Among the largest Swedish companies in this industry are
groups with extensive research and development in this
country and manufacturing in subsidiaries or in
contract-bound companies in many other countries. There is a
steadily growing demand in the instrument industry, linked
to, among other things, healthcare technology, energy
management and environmental control.
The Ericsson Group is by far the largest company in this
part of the Swedish engineering industry and it is the
country's second largest company. The company now focuses on
network technology and multimedia. In the mid-2010s,
Ericsson is the largest in the world outside of China on
mobile broadband networks.
Telecommunication, electronics and instrument
|The largest companies in the manufacture of
telecommunications, electronics and instruments 2015
|Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
|Sony Mobile Communication AB
||instruments for measurement, testing and
||systems for surgery and radiation therapy
|Axis Communication AB
The machine industry exports a high proportion
of manufacturing. These companies are highly specialized and
belong to the world's leading producers in their respective
fields, with a traditionally large but stagnant market in
Europe and a growing market in other continents, mainly in
the emerging economies in Asia.
The large machine companies are increasingly selling
entire systems and production solutions that also include
services for the customer, such as operations, maintenance
and upgrading. These global companies therefore have
development work not only in Sweden but also in other parts
of the world in order to be able to work closely with
customers and develop solutions to current investment needs
in their environment.
In the electrical machine industry, the companies
Electrolux and ABB are especially notable. Electrolux, which
manufactures electrical household appliances for cooking,
cold storage, laundry and cleaning, has increasingly placed
its manufacturing in low-wage countries in Eastern Europe,
Latin America and Southeast Asia. Almost 10 per cent of the
company's employees work in Sweden. ABB, a world leader in
power transmission and automation technology, is a Swiss
multinational group with part of its origins in the Swedish
company ASEA. It has 6.5 percent of its operations in a
In other machinery industry, there are also large
companies with a global market. Some of them, for example
Atlas Copco, have only a couple of percent of sales here in
Sweden and several of them have only a tenth of their
Machine industry companies
|Machine industry company with the largest
|Atlas Copco AB
||ball bearings and seals
|Alfa Laval AB
||heat exchangers, separators
||precision measurement machines
|Toyota Industries Europa AB
||material handling equipment, trucks
|Nibe Industier AB
|Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery AB
||power plant turbines
The automotive industry is an essential part of the
By the middle of the 20th century, most types of
transport equipment could be manufactured inland. The models
were designed here, most components were manufactured here,
sometimes under license from a foreign company, and the
parts were mounted here. Since then, the transport industry
has been one of the most expansive industries, but at the
same time it has also undergone very major changes. Several
sub-sectors have largely disappeared.
In Sweden, the automotive industry got underway
in the 1910s and 1920s, when it was mainly focused on trucks
(see the automotive industry). During the 1940s and 1950s
Gothenburg and Trollhättan developed into the center of the
Swedish car industry. In western and southern Sweden, a
growing network of subcontractors with factories for the
manufacture of bodies, chassis, engines, gearboxes and many
other components also emerged. These became significant
workplaces in a number of locations (for example, bodies
were made in Olofström in western Blekinge and car seats in
Bengtsfors in Dalsland).
Competition intensified, production became increasingly
complex, development costs rose and the two Swedish
manufacturers Volvo and Saab-Scania had problems maintaining
production levels and profitability. The result was
increased international ownership and reorganization. In
1999, Volvo, by far the largest car manufacturer, sold its
passenger car part to the American Ford Motor Company but
retained truck production. Saab-Scania's unprofitable
passenger car production (Saab-Automobil AB) became part of
US General Motors in 1990. In 1995, Scania AB again became
an independent company with truck and bus manufacturing,
while Saab AB became focused on aircraft and defense
Volvo Cars since 2011 is part of the Chinese Zhejiang
Geely Holding Group with extensive production at the
Torsland plant in Gothenburg. Saab Automobil AB with
assembly plant in Trollhättan was purchased in 2011 by a
Chinese car company but later sold on.
The manufacture of trucks and buses has
also undergone dramatic changes. The Volvo Group and Scania
AB have remained important producers in the global market,
while their industrial employees in Sweden have become
significantly fewer. Volvo Trucks AB is one of the world's
largest manufacturers of heavy trucks and has assembly
plants in all parts of the world.
Bus manufacturing was for many years an unprofitable
business in Sweden. Bodies are no longer manufactured in the
country and final assembly now takes place abroad, including
in Poland. Scania AB has a wide range of buses for public
transport, while Volvo Buses AB focuses more on
long-distance buses. In the world market for vehicles, there
is another prominent Swedish player, namely Autoliv AB,
which manufactures electrical and electronic equipment for
car safety, mainly airbags. The company has production in
about 30 countries.
The automotive industry also includes the manufacture of
tracked wagons and combat vehicles within British-owned BAE
Systems Hägglunds AB in Örnsköldsvik.
Rail vehicles are no longer manufactured in
Sweden. However, the German company Bombardier, which
designs and produces subway and commuter trains, has in
Västerås manufacturing control systems for them.
The aviation industry has almost exclusively
covered the production of military aircraft (see aerospace
industry), until the 1970s only to the Swedish defense.
During the 1970s, the Saab 35 Dragon was developed, which
also came to be exported to three other countries. An even
bigger and more complicated project was the fighter aircraft
JAS 39 Gripen, developed within Saab-Scania and ready for
delivery in 1994. Until autumn 2015, Gripenplan has been
sold to three countries and there are long-term loans in two
more. The largest customer is the Swedish defense. The plan
is compiled at Saab's factory in Linköping, "Sweden's flight
capital", and the components come from a large number of
subcontractors, both in Sweden and abroad. From the
mid-2010s, an upgraded version of Gripen is also being
built, and for both models there are orders until 2020.
From the beginning of the 1980s until 1999, Saab also
manufactured civil aircraft for regional traffic, especially
The shipbuilding industry grew during the
interwar period, producing mainly for domestic demand.
During the early post-war period, a number of Swedish
shipyards became among the big ones on the global market
where they specialized in specific sectors, mainly large oil
In the early 1970s, just before the oil crisis, the
Swedish shipbuilding industry had its strongest position.
Then, international oil trade and long-distance water
transport declined, while a new shipbuilding industry grew
strongly in Japan and South Korea in particular.
During the 1980s, there was a global overcapacity in the
shipbuilding industry and in the high-cost country of Sweden
it resulted in a pervasive shipyard crisis with the closure
of almost all shipyards.
Swedish and European shipbuilding industries have
continued to shrink, and large civilian vessels are no
longer manufactured in Sweden. Saab Kockums AB, together
with the Swedish state, has a repair yard in Karlskrona
where some submarines are also newly produced.
At smaller shipyards, mainly in the Gothenburg and
Stockholm area, vessels for fishing and liner services are
built along the coasts. Rescue and patrol boats for civil
and military use are produced in Docksta on the central
northern coast of Stockholm and at Muskö in Stockholm's
southern archipelago, and SaabKockum's small combat boats
are built on the underground shipyard at Muskö.
The largest repair yard, Götaverken City Shipyard in
Gothenburg, ended in 2015, but along the coasts there are a
number of smaller yards for repair, maintenance and
In Sweden, there was a growing demand for recreational
boats for many years, but after the financial crisis in
2008-09 it decreased. Several manufacturers were forced into
bankruptcy, while others limited the number of models, in
some cases to expensive cruisers, and the production of
small boats was reduced. The center for the manufacture of
recreational craft is traditionally at Orust. (Compare
The service industries are one of the three main
industries. As the industry's share of GDP and employment
has decreased, it is instead the importance of the various
service industries that has gradually increased in
post-industrial Sweden. The service industries are also
responsible for an increasing share of Sweden's exports.
Employment in education, care and care has constantly
increased and is one of the largest service sectors.
Business services for businesses and individuals are another
large and growing part of the business sector, while trade
and restaurant growth has been slowing.
Business internationalization, large industrial
companies' policy to focus on core businesses and their
research and development (R&D) needs to cope with growing
foreign competition have contributed to the development of
certain service industries.
Operations that were previously carried out within a
commodity-producing company are now carried out in companies
in the service sector, such as technical development in
consulting companies and recruitment in staffing companies
as well as cleaning and lunch service in special external
service companies. At the same time, it is becoming
increasingly common for small, R&D-oriented service
companies to grow in connection with universities and
technical colleges. There they develop a production that
will eventually be incorporated into established industrial
Simple postal and banking cases that were previously
carried out via postal and bank offices are now carried out
directly by the individual customer. At the same time, it
becomes more common with complex financial, insurance and
administrative matters that require extensive management in
various service industries.
Sweden is an internationally successful service exporter.
In 2014, traditional services such as transport and travel
accounted for about one-third of service exports. Most of
the export of services is now business services. It is an
export that has benefited from digital development and the
growth of multinational companies.
Commodity trading has largely increased continuously for
many years. At the same time, it is also part of the
business sector where competition intensified during the
2000s. In 2015, trade as a whole accounted for 12 per cent
of all employment in Sweden and approximately 8 per cent of
The financial crisis of 2008–09 saw a significant decline
in car sales, a somewhat smaller decline in retail as a
whole and a more limited and short-term decline in wholesale
trade. After a short upturn, wholesale trade after 2014
remained at an unchanged level, while retail sales increased
by a few percent per year.
Like the manufacturing industry, trade has also been
internationalized, not only in terms of the origin of the
goods but also the organization of wholesale and retail
trade. For a long time, established retailers face
competition from foreign retail chains in both grocery and
retail. Above all, IT development has entailed major changes
with new contact opportunities and new sales channels, such
as increasing e-commerce.
The high internet usage has led to customers becoming
more price and quality conscious. They now place higher
demands on the retailers and thus also on the wholesale
trade in terms of sustainable production, energy
conservation, fair production conditions and environmental
Fashion, music and games
The fashion industry is sometimes called the fashion
industry, but it encompasses a number of interconnected
businesses where industrial production itself is a small
Fashion designers with their own brands and their own
companies or employees at a major fashion company's design
department have during the last decades been of great
importance for the Swedish clothing retailer's expansion in
Sweden and abroad. The clothing chain H&M Hennes & Mauritz
grows worldwide with self-designed clothing, relatively low
prices and a style that is perceived abroad in particular as
Scandinavian, simple and functional.
Since the late 1990s, several young Swedish designers
have made their own brands. Some of them have become
established in the Swedish clothing market and also have
The music industry is also a growth sector in the Swedish
business community. Between 2010 and 2017, the industry's
revenue increased from SEK 6.1 billion to SEK 10.7 billion,
of which 20 per cent was export income. Half of the revenue
consists of concert revenue, the balance of copyright
revenue and revenue from recorded music.
The computer games industry has grown very fast during
the 2010s. Swedish-produced games have become major
international successes. The industry's turnover increased
from SEK 3.7 billion in 2012 to SEK 14.7 billion in 2017,
predominantly export income. Game developers start companies
and launch their games directly on the international market.
Tourism's share of GDP ranged from 2.6 to 2.8 per cent in
2000-14, which is a larger proportion than, for example,
agriculture and forestry combined. Tourism revenues come
partly from visitors who travel as leisure tourists and
partly from business travelers.
Almost 30 per cent of the revenue comes from foreign
visitors and thus is export income. The trend during the
2000s has been a significant growth in the tourism industry
in terms of leisure travelers. Foreign visitors' share of
consumption in Sweden has increased; Growing tourism has led
to a sharp increase in the number of hotels in the largest
cities and in prominent tourist regions.
Sweden is heavily dependent on foreign trade. As the
domestic market is small, a large foreign market is
necessary in order to continue to produce highly developed
goods and services. In addition, Sweden has large assets of
important raw materials that are lacking in most European
countries, which has stimulated trade with countries in the
Sweden's foreign trade has increased in line with the
economic development in other parts of the world and the
business world is increasingly globalized and long-distance
trade strengthened. World trade liberalization has also
contributed to increased foreign trade.
Sweden now exports goods and services at a value
equivalent to 45 percent of GDP. The proportion is higher
now than it was in the early 1990s, although it declined
during the financial crisis of 2008–09 and has fluctuated
somewhat since then. The share of services in total exports
has increased since the 1990s and in 2014 was just over 30
percent of exports' share of GDP.
The trade balance
Since the beginning of the 1990s, export revenues have
been greater than import costs and the trade balance has
been positive. The surplus grew until 2006 but has since
Workshop products are the most important commodity group
in foreign trade. They account for about 45 percent of
export revenue and almost as much of import costs. Machines,
electronics, telecommunications equipment, cars and other
means of transport and metal products are marked in both
exports and imports. A weak trend in the 2000s has been a
declining share of the workshop products in the export
A large part of Sweden's exports consist of processed
products from the basic industries, ie paper and wood
products from the forest industry and steel, iron and metals
from the steel and mining industries. The chemical industry
is also export-oriented; pharmaceuticals and plastics
produce large export earnings. Raw materials such as
agricultural products, timber and ores accounted for most of
the exports until about 1900. Then a rapid change in the
composition of commodities began in parallel with Sweden's
industrialization. Increasingly processed industrial
products have been exported, especially products from the
engineering industry, and now raw materials account for just
under 7 percent of the export value.
Within imports, fossil fuels (mainly crude oil), refined
oil products and electricity have been a major item for many
decades, but oil dependency has decreased. In 1980, these
products accounted for 20 percent of the total import value,
in 2014 for 14 percent. Conversely, net imports of food
increase every year, and prominent items in the imports are
fruits, meats and beverages. Even greater is the import of
seafood, but most of it is sold on to third countries.
The services balance
The balance of services was negative until 2005 and
mainly comprised travel. But already in the years after the
turn of the 2000, a sharp increase had begun in the service
trade, and it continued until 2014. The main explanation is
a rapidly growing trade in data and information services and
other business and consulting services. The service trade
also includes other technical services, patents, licenses
for manufacturing goods and cross-border insurance as well
as tourism, business travel and transport. Foreign visitors'
consumption in Sweden is counted as service exports, while
costs when residents of Sweden visit abroad are registered
as service imports.
Foreign trade in goods is mostly done with countries in
Europe, especially with the EU and Norway; almost three
quarters of the goods exports go to countries in Europe. In
recent years, trade has increased with countries in Asia,
primarily China. Trade with the United States is small, as
with other parts of the world.
In terms of individual countries, Germany and Norway are
Sweden's two largest goods export markets and also the
countries from which we import the most.
Tourism and gastronomy
In 2017, the tourism industry had a turnover of SEK 317
billion, an increase of just over 7 percent compared to the
previous year. The industry's contribution to GDP was
estimated at 2.8 percent. The share has been between 2.7 and
3 per cent throughout the 1990s, which indicates that
tourism's share is at a fairly constant level in relation to
the country's overall economy. In 2017, 16.2 foreign
overnight stays were made in Sweden. The visitors came
mainly from Norway, Germany, Denmark, the UK, the USA and
Liseberg's amusement park in Gothenburg is Sweden's most
visited tourist destination, followed by Gröna Lund, Skansen
and Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Gothenburg offers visitors a
unique cityscape with, among other things. the county
governor's houses and park and garden facilities as well as
several museums, e.g. The Röhsska Museum.
In the Kingdom of Glasland in Småland, craft glass is
still being manufactured in worthy preserved industrial
environments. Many urban environments attract tourists, e.g.
Hello for a genuine small town environment, Gävle with
preserved neighborhoods with older buildings and Sundsvall
with a time-typical city plan. Stockholm is the prime
example of an urban environment that has many historical
layers of buildings and other environments. Especially the
Old Town with its medieval atmosphere attracts tourists.
Other attractions include the castle, the town hall, the
churches, Skansen and the Globe. The capital houses a number
of museums, of which the Vasa Museum attracts the most
A cultural treasure constitutes Sweden's approximately
3,000 churches, from the smallest chapel to the cathedral in
Uppsala. Thanks to the old parish division, there are also
many environments with church villages and church towns
preserved. The old cultural environments are often nurtured
by hometown associations, which at their hometowns attract
visitors to various events. The unique public right, which
gives free access to nature under its own responsibility,
attracts visitors who want to hike, ski, pick berries and
mushrooms, fish, sail etc. Especially valuable nature is
protected and protected in national parks and nature
In 2019, Sweden had 15 items on UNESCO's World Heritage
list (see table).
Sweden is gastronomically characterized by the country's
large climatic differences: the northern parts closest to
the culture of catching culture where nature (game,
mushroom, berry, fish) and the great distances created
traditions essentially separate from the southern parts of
the continent and influenced by the peasant landscape. The
hinterland and the forest gave other habits than in the
To a great extent, the home cooking remains unharmed in
our country, the "innovative" restaurants devote as much to
finding back to the original domestic recipes as to finding
new, foreign dishes or refining the French or Italian
classics. However, in recent decades, the home cooking has
been increased by a number of dishes, which give a hint that
the food culture in Sweden has in no way stopped but is open
to new impulses: pasta, pizza, kebab and Asian food are more
common today than cabbages, body cakes and icing ribbon.