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Sweden Business



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.

Business of Sweden

The basis for economic development has been large natural resources, especially forest, iron ore and hydroelectricity, and the development has been promoted by political stability.

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 foreign trade.

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 in Sweden.

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 emergency preparedness.

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 United States.

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

Business Sales (SEK million)
AB Volvo 312 515
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 246 920
H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB 180 861
Vattenfall AB 165 945
Volvo Car Group 164 043
Skanska AB 153 049
AB Electrolux 123 511
Svenska Cellulose Aktiebolag SCA 115 316
Atlas Copco AB 102 161
ICA Gruppen AB 101 221
Nordea Bank AB 92 630
Scania AB 92 051
Telia Company AB 86 569
Sandvik AB 85 845
Preem Petroleum AB 84 438


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 political issue.

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.

Animal husbandry

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 biodiversity.

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 years.

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 agricultural policy.


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 energy.


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 forest land.

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 timber transport.


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 countryside.


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 ports.

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.

Sustainable fishing

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 perspective.

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.

Iron ore

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 small.

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 stones.


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 proportion.

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 plants.

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.

Fossil fuels

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 slow.

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.

water Energy

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 the country.

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.

Wind 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 electricity generation.

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 several decades.

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 industry.

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 economies.

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 instrument manufacturing.

Through its extensive global operations, the country's 10 largest industrial companies play a significant role in Sweden's economy.

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 recovered.

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 in 2017 products r
Lantmännen's economic association cereals
AAK Sweden AB dairy products
Arla Foods AB meat products
KHScan Sweden AB vegetable oils
Scandi Standard AB chicken products
Cloetta AB chocolate, confectionery
Orkla Foods Sweden AB preservatives, powder
KLS Ugglarps AB slaughterhouse

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).

Forest industry

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 products
Svenska Cellulosa AB, SCA pulp, hygiene paper
Stora Enso Oyj pulp, packaging board
BillerudKorsnäs AB 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 special steel.

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 industry.

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 industry.

Chemical industry

The chemical industry here mainly includes the sub-industries manufacture of basic chemical products, pharmaceuticals and production of rubber and plastic products.

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 pipes.

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 industry).

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 generic medicines.

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 industry.

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.

Engineering industry

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 appropriate form.

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 2015 products
Sandvik AB cemented carbide tools, steel conveyor belt
Assa Abloy AB lock and security system
Ovako Group metal sanitary ware
Lindab International AB metal products for the construction sector
Gunnebo AB 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 manufacturing companies

The largest companies in the manufacture of telecommunications, electronics and instruments 2015 products
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson communications
Sony Mobile Communication AB communications
SAAB Group instruments for measurement, testing and navigation
Elektra AB systems for surgery and radiation therapy
Mölnlycke AB electromedical devices
Siemens AB electronic equipment
Axis Communication AB network products

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 Swedish subsidiary.

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 employees here.

Machine industry companies

Machine industry company with the largest turnover 2015 products
AB Electrolux household appliances
Atlas Copco AB drill
AB SKF ball bearings and seals
ABB Norden transmission equipment
Alfa Laval AB heat exchangers, separators
Husqvarna AB chainsaws
Hexagon AB precision measurement machines
Toyota Industries Europa AB material handling equipment, trucks
Nibe Industier AB heat pumps
Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery AB power plant turbines


The automotive industry is an essential part of the engineering industry.

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 systems.

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 Saab 340.

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 tankers.

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 rebuilding.

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 shipbuilding industry).


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 Services

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 companies.

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 GDP.

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 considerations.

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 part.

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 sales abroad.

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.

tourist industry

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.

Foreign trade

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 immediate area.

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 shrunk.

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 value.

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.

trading Partners

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 the Netherlands.

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 visitors.

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 reserves.

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 coastal belt.

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.

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