Sweden Industry

In the 20th century, traditional industries with raw materials from the forest and mines were joined by engineering companies that successfully developed Swedish inventions. Towards the end of the century, technologically advanced manufacturing developed in, among other things, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and information technology (IT). A small number of well-known large companies with international operations account for a large part of employment, production and export.

Foreign ownership in Swedish industry has increased strongly and some companies have been acquired by foreign companies. At the same time, more Swedish companies are establishing themselves abroad, both to lower costs and to be able to grow in global competition.

The manufacturing industry is largely privately owned, while the state’s ownership is more extensive among service companies. In the early 1990s, state-owned enterprises and state-owned enterprises were converted into companies or privatized in whole or in part. For example, in 1993 the Televerket became Telia AB (and later Telia Sonera and from 2016 Telia Company). Other companies that became companies were Posten, Vattenfall and the National Railways (SJ AB).


After the oil crisis in 1973 until 1982, the forest and steel industry and the mining industry underwent a structural transformation as did the shipbuilding industry, which almost went out of business. Already, most of the textile, clothing and footwear production had moved abroad or closed down.

During the second half of the 1990s, there was a rapid expansion of the IT sector and telecommunications. Several new companies were formed and achieved great success. After a sharp decline in the early 2000s, with many bankruptcies and major cuts as a result, the industry has recovered. Ericsson is a world-leading manufacturer of mobile phone systems. The Swedish IT wonder has remained vivid, with, for example, Skype and Spotify developing new telephone and music services.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Sweden. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.

The engineering industry is important, but not least the automotive sector has long been under pressure. In 1999 and 2000 respectively, Volvo and Saab sold their car production to the American giants Ford and General Motors. Truck manufacturer Scania was purchased in 2008 by German Volkswagen. The automotive industry ended up in a new steel bath in connection with the global financial crisis. Volvo’s passenger car manufacturing has been owned by Chinese Geely since 2010. Geely became 2017’s largest individual owner in the Swedish AB Volvo, which mainly manufactures trucks and buses. AB Volvo is Sweden’s largest company and the world’s second largest truck manufacturer. Saab’s car production was sold to a Dutch sports car manufacturer in 2010 but went through further crises and in 2015 the electric car company Nevs, which took over the ownership, closed down car production.

Other large companies in the engineering industry are ABB, which is equally owned by “Swedish” Asea and “Swiss” Brown Boveri, Electrolux (white goods), SKF (ball bearings) and Atlas Copco (drilling equipment). The forest industry accounts for a significant part of industrial production.

Another important industry is the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The now German-owned Aga that produces gas is a world name. The pharmaceutical company Pharmacia was bought in 2003 by the American Pfizer and later closed down, but part of the operations in Sweden have continued in new companies. Astra was merged with British Zeneca in 1999 and Astra Zeneca still has large operations in Sweden.

The food industry is dominated by companies owned by farmers’ associations (for example, Scan and Arla Foods with headquarters in Denmark), by the consumer cooperative (Coop) and by subsidiaries of international large companies.



Lifetime of terrorist crimes in Syria

December 14

Two Gothenburg citizens are sentenced by the Gothenburg District Court to life imprisonment for terrorist offenses in Syria, where, according to the prosecutor, when two men were beheaded. This is the first time someone has been convicted of terrorist offenses under legislation passed in 2003.


Tighter rules for asylum seekers

The government is doing what is perceived as a complete reversal in refugee policy. The situation is strained in many municipalities as close to 10,000 asylum seekers this week have continued to come to the country during the autumn.

The People’s Party becomes the Liberals

The party holds a national meeting and decides on the change of name. In addition, the party chooses Jan Björklund as party leader.

Terror-suspected arrested – and released

November 19

A 22-year-old Iraqi is arrested at an asylum residence in Boliden, after Säpo went out with a picture and name and called for him. The arrest gets a lot of attention but after only a few days the man is released and he is declared free from all suspicions.

Elevated terror threat level

November 18

Five days after a bloody terrorist attack in Paris (see France-Calendar), Säpo raises the level in Sweden from three to four on a five-degree scale, which means “high threat”.

Border checks are introduced

The government decides to introduce temporary border controls in order to gain control over the large influx of migrants. The decision is valid from 12 November and is valid for 10 days.


School attack in Trollhättan

22 October

A masked 21-year-old enters a school and chops to death a student and a student assistant. He himself is shot by the police and later dies. According to police, the perpetrator was a right-wing extremist and this is a hate crime. Many call it a terrorist act. A person injured in the attack dies in early December, and the deed thus requires the lives of four people, including the perpetrator.

Settlement on the migration issue

The government and the bourgeois alliance agree, among other things, that temporary residence permits will be introduced for a period of time. Families with children, unaccompanied children and quota refugees will still be granted permanent residence permits. Furthermore, the parties agree that the municipalities should better share the responsibility for the refugee reception, and that the municipalities receive extra money to cope with the situation.

Fires in asylum houses

Fires are breaking out in several facilities that are intended to be or are already asylum dwellings.

Increasing number of asylum seekers

The Migration Board revises its forecast once again and now speaks that the number of asylum seekers coming to the country during the year may amount to 190,000, of which up to 40,000 unaccompanied children. The government and the opposition hold talks to reach a cross-border settlement on how the situation should be handled. Several parties come up with proposals: M wants temporary residence permits to be granted instead of permanent ones, S wants to require municipalities to accept asylum seekers.

The December agreement is scrapped

October 9

The agreement (see December 2014) is abandoned at a time after KD’s parliamentary vote voted against the agreement with the government, despite the party board wanting to keep it. Immediately afterwards, the other bourgeois parties declare that the agreement is broken. Moderate leader Kinberg Batra says alliance parties are prepared to take over the government in 2018.


Telia Sonera leaves Eurasia

The company decides to abandon markets in Euroasia following several extensive scandals. It was already reported in 2012 that the company sold telephone systems that could be used to monitor citizens for dictatorships, and that it paid bribes to obtain licenses. The countries that the telecommunications operator withdraws from are Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Nepal. The markets are said to have accounted for 20 percent of the company’s revenue (see also May 2015).

Russian ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russia’s ambassador is called to the Foreign Ministry to explain warnings from Moscow that there will be “consequences” if Sweden should join NATO. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström says it is unacceptable with threats.

SD breaks with his youth union

The Swedish Democrats are breaking up with the youth union SDU because of the election of new SDU chairman, Jessica Ohlson, who is considered to represent an overly nationalist branch within the party.


Commitment to refugees

Towards the end of the summer, the greatly increased influx of refugees into Europe will lead to a shift in the debate that will now increasingly be about the need for human intervention, and to a large commitment of volunteers who want to help in various ways. At the same time, the debate is being intensified about the extent to which municipalities can be required to receive refugees.

Notable murder of Ikea

When an asylum-seeking Eritrean who has just rejected his application kills two people at Ikea in Västerås, the debate climate becomes fierce. Immigration and immigration are already hot issues and, according to many analysts, a reason why SD seems to continue to progress in opinion polls. The offender is later sentenced to life imprisonment and deportation.


Investigation proposal on limited arms exports

The so-called Kex investigation (made by the Military Exports Review Committee) proposes a stop for Swedish arms exports to countries with serious democratic shortcomings. Sweden is the world’s 12th largest arms exporter, weapons for SEK 8 billion were sold to 54 countries in 2014. Arms exports are an increasingly sensitive political issue.

The spring budget is adopted

The December agreement is being properly tested for the first time when the government budget is adopted. Many bourgeois members are sharply critical of the budget, but only two of them vote against it (see December 2014).


Bribery charges against Telia Sonera

The telecommunications operator, whose largest owner is the Swedish state, is accused of involvement in a bribery scandal, which is said to be by far the largest in Swedish history. The telecom operator must have helped the Azerbaijan presidential family to plunder the national treasury of the equivalent of SEK billion, in exchange for licenses and other permits.

The Swedes’ party is closed down

May 10

The party of the neo-Nazi Swedes is dissolved, reportedly due to the weak election result.

Nordea is fined

The Grand Bank is judged by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority to pay SEK 50 million in penalties for large deficiencies in its work against money laundering.

Jimmie Åkesson back

SD leader Jimmie Åkesson returns to national politics after six months of sick leave.


SD members are excluded from the party

April 27

After a period of turbulence within the SD, the party board excludes seven members, including the two leaders of the SDU youth association, Gustav Kasselstrand and William Hahne. They are accused of having “extremist connections” and acting “morally questionable and damaging the mother party”.

New KD leader

April 25

In the case of an extra national assembly, in accordance with the nomination committee’s proposal, Ebba Busch Thor is elected new party leader. The election involves a generational shift – Busch Thor is 28 years old – and a clear right-hander for the party.

Swedish military to Iraq

Foreign Minister Wallström says that Sweden should support Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). The government proposes sending 35 Swedish military to contribute to the training of Kurdish Pershmer families, among other things.


Relationships are normalized

March 26

Since former Defense Minister Björn von Sydow visited Riyadh as an official envoy from the government, with a letter from King Carl Gustaf, saying that the Saudi government has received an apology from Sweden and be ready to normalize conditions. Margot Wallström denies that it was an excuse for her statement, but says that Sweden has clarified that she had no intention of insulting either Saudi Arabia or Islam. The ambassador returns to Stockholm.

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates is recalled

March 18th

The reason is the criticism of Saudi Arabia. At the same time, it is announced that the Saudis are not issuing any new business visas for Swedes.

Saudi agreement stopped, Ambassador recalled

March 10

The government announces that there will be no extension of the arms trade agreement with Saudi Arabia (see February 2015). Saudi Arabia responds by withdrawing its ambassador from Stockholm.

Saudi Arabia stops Wallström

March 9

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is stopped from giving a speech to the Arab League in Cairo, by Saudi Arabia, who says that Sweden is interfering in the country’s internal affairs. The speech is about human rights in the fight against terrorism but does not explicitly mention Saudi Arabia. Wallström was invited as a guest of honor, probably because Sweden has recognized Palestine. In a speech in Sweden in February, Wallström criticized Saudi Arabia for human rights violations and talked about “medieval” methods such as impunity.


Sentenced for international law violations in Syria

February 26th

A 28-year-old Syrian man is sentenced to five years in prison in the Södertörn District Court for, among other things, international law violations committed in Syria. The evidence consists of a video recording where the man is seen participating in the brutal abuse of a prisoner. This is the third time they have been subjected to war crimes in Sweden, and the first time to crimes committed in connection with the conflict in Syria.

Fi holds congress

February 15

Gudrun Schyman and Sissela Nordling Blanco are appointed to continue to lead Feminist initiative, now as party leader and not spokespersons.

Repo rate on minus

February 11

For the first time, the Riksbank has lowered its policy rate below zero to minus 0.10 percent (see also October 2014).

Saudi agreements bring criticism

The government receives harsh criticism in the foreign policy debate for a military cooperation agreement that Sweden has with Saudi Arabia since 2005. The agreement must now be terminated or extended for another five years. Both the People’s Party and the Left Party demand that the agreement be terminated. Increased awareness of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia is making the issue sensitive and soon the Environmental Party is not ready to support an extension.

Palestinian leader visiting

February 9

President Mahmud Abbas’s visit revives the debate on whether it was wise for the government to recognize Palestine (see October 2014). Israel expresses dissatisfaction.


Göran Hägglund resigns

January 29th

Christian Democrats leader Göran Hägglund announces that he is leaving the party leader post, prompting speculation immediately about who will be his successor.

Disbelief quotes against Löfven

January 20th

The Swedish Democrats are demanding a declaration of confidence in Prime Minister Löfven to show their dissatisfaction with the December agreement, which the party considers violates parliamentary rules. SD receives no support from other parties: 45 members vote in favor, 133 vote against and 155 abstain from voting.

New submarine information

A retired officer comes forward and says he took pictures of a likely submarine in the big fairway towards Stockholm, a week after the search was canceled in October.

  • The bourgeois parties want an inquiry into Swedish membership in the Western Defense Alliance. The government is rejecting the claim and thus a crack already appears to have occurred in one of the three areas where cooperation was promised in the December agreement.

New M-leader

The moderates hold an extraordinary vote and Anna Kinberg Batra, so far the group leader in Parliament, is elected as expected unanimously as new chair. She becomes the first female moderate leader.

A single police authority

January 1st

From the turn of the year, 21 police authorities as well as the National Police Board and the State Forensic Laboratory are merged into a single, new state police authority. The non-profit organization is the largest since the police became state in 1965.

Sweden Industry

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