EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Sweden is generally considered a highly favorable investment destination. Sweden offers an extremely competitive, open economy with access to new products, technologies, skills, and innovations. Sweden also has a well-educated labor force, outstanding communication infrastructure, and a stable political environment, which makes it a choice destination for U.S. and foreign companies. Low levels of corporate tax, the absence of withholding tax on dividends, and a favorable holding company regime are additional incentives for doing business in Sweden.

Sweden’s attractiveness as an investment destination is tempered by a few structural business challenges. These include high personal and VAT taxes. In addition, the high cost of labor, rigid labor legislation and regulations, a persistent housing shortage, and the general high cost of living in Sweden can present challenges to attracting, hiring, and maintaining talent for new firms entering Sweden. Historically, the telecommunications, information technology, healthcare, energy, and public transport sectors have attracted the most foreign investment. However, manufacturing, wholesale, and retail trade have also recently attracted increased foreign funds.

Overall, investment conditions remain favorable. In the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2022, Sweden was ranked fourth and in the most recent World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report, Sweden ranked eight. The report highlighted Sweden’s strengths as: human capital (health, education level, and skills of the population), macroeconomic stability, and technical and physical infrastructure. Bloomberg’s 2022 Innovation Index ranked Sweden fifth among the most innovative nations on earth, a pattern reinforced when Sweden ranked first on the European Commission’s 2022 European Innovation Scoreboard and third on the World Intellectual Property Organization/INSEAD 2022 Global Innovation Index. Also in 2022, Transparency International ranked Sweden as one of the most corruption-free countries in the world – fifth out of 180. Sweden is perceived as a creative place with interesting research and technology. It is well equipped to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution with a superior IT infrastructure and is seen as a frontrunner in adopting new technologies and setting new consumer trends. U.S. and other exporters can take advantage of a test market full of demanding, highly sophisticated customers.

Climate and the environment are a central concern for the Swedish government, political parties across the political spectrum, businesses, and the public at large. Successive Swedish governments have actively lobbied for ambitious action to protect the environment and to curb greenhouse gases within a multilateral, internationally binding framework and by welcoming research, innovation, and investment within the fields of climate and the environment. The COVID-19 pandemic considerably impacted the Swedish economy, but following several fiscal stimulus packages, a successful vaccination rollout, and a relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions, Sweden’s economy recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 caused further economic supply-side disruptions and was expected to contribute to a period of lower growth, high inflation, rising interest rates, and increased unemployment during 2022 and 2023.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 5 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2022 3 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 $57,698 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2021 $59,540 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

There are no laws or practices that discriminate or are alleged to discriminate against foreign investors, including and especially U.S. investors, by prohibiting, limiting, or conditioning foreign investment in a sector of the economy (either at the pre-establishment (market access) or post-establishment phase of investment). Until the mid-1980s, Sweden’s approach to direct investment from abroad was quite restrictive and governed by a complex system of laws and regulations. Sweden’s entry into the European Union (EU) in 1995 largely eliminated all restrictions. Restrictions to investment remain in the defense and other sensitive sectors, as addressed in the next section “Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment.”

The Swedish Government recognizes the need to further improve the business climate for entrepreneurs, education, and the flow of research from lab to market. Swedish authorities have implemented a number of reforms to improve the business regulatory environment and to attract more foreign investment. In addition, Sweden introduced supplementary provisions to the EU Regulation on Foreign Direct Investments (adopted in March 2019), which entered into force November 1, 2020. Sweden is in the process of drafting its domestic Investment Screening Regime, and the government commission report has been circulated for comments. A final comprehensive regime is expected to enter into force in December 2023. In the meantime, Sweden does have limited existing ability to review and prevent investments that pose national security threats.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are very few restrictions on where and how foreign enterprises can invest, and there are no equity caps, mandatory joint-venture requirements, or other measures designed to limit foreign ownership or market access. However, Sweden does maintain some limitations in a select number of situations:

  • Accountancy: Investment in the accountancy sector by non-EU-residents cannot exceed 25 percent.
  • Legal services: Investment in a corporation or partnership carrying out the activities of an “advokat,” a lawyer, cannot be done by non-EU residents.
  • Air transport: Foreign enterprises may be restricted from access to international air routes unless bilateral intergovernmental agreements provide otherwise.
  • Air transport: Cabotage is reserved to national airlines.
  • Maritime transport: Cabotage is reserved to vessels flying the national flag.
  • Defense: Restrictions apply to foreign ownership of companies involved in the defense industry and other sensitive areas.
  • On January 1, 2020, Sweden enacted regulations giving Swedish armed forces and security services authority to deny or revoke operating licenses to mobile radio providers that threaten national security.

Swedish company law provides various ways a business can be organized. The main difference between these forms is whether the founder must own capital and to what extent the founder is personally liable for the company’s debt. The Swedish Act (1992:160) on Foreign Branches applies to foreign companies operating through a branch and also to people residing abroad who run a business in Sweden. A branch must have a president who resides within the European Economic Area (EEA). All business enterprises in Sweden (including branches) are required to register at the Swedish Companies Registration Office, Bolagsverket. An invention or trademark must be registered in Sweden in order to obtain legal protection. A bank from a non-EEA country needs special permission from the Financial Supervisory Authority, Finansinspektionen, to establish a branch in Sweden. Sweden also adheres to EU regulations on investment screening and approval mechanisms for inbound foreign investment. A draft investment screening legislation introduced in November 2021 proposed a comprehensive screening regime, designated the agencies responsible for implementation, and gave the government the final say over investments not approved by the screening authority. The legislation is expected to enter into force in December 2023.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Sweden has in the past five years not undergone an investment policy review (IPRs) by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In the past five years, Sweden has not undergone a review of investment policy-related concerns by civil society organizations, including those based in the host country or in third countries.

Business Facilitation

Business Sweden’s Swedish Trade and Invest Council is the investment promotion agency tasked with facilitating business. The services of the agency are available to all investors.

All forms of business enterprise, except for sole traders, have to be registered with the Swedish Companies Registration Office, Bolagsverket, before starting operations. Sole traders may apply for registration in order to be given exclusive rights to the name in the county where they will be operating. Online applications to register an enterprise can be made at https://www.bolagsverket.se/en  and are open to foreign companies. The process of registering an enterprise is clear and can take a few days or up to a few weeks, depending on the complexity and form of the business enterprise.

All business enterprises, including sole traders, need also to be registered with the Swedish Tax Agency, Skatteverket, before starting operations. Relevant information and guides can be found at http://www.skatteverket.se . Depending on the nature of business, companies may need to register with the Environmental Protection Agency, Naturvårdsverket, or, if real estate is involved, the county authorities. Non-EU/EEA citizens need a residence permit, obtained from the Swedish Migration Agency, Migrationsverket, in order to start up and/or run a business. A compilation of Swedish government agencies that work with registering, starting, running, expanding and/or closing a business can be found at http://www.verksamt.se .

Outward Investment

The Government of Sweden has commissioned the Swedish Exports Credit Guarantee Board (EKN) to promote Swedish exports and the internationalization of Swedish companies. EKN insures exporting companies and banks against non-payment in export transactions, thereby reducing risk and encouraging the expansion of operations. As part of its export strategy, the Swedish Government has also launched Team Sweden to promote Swedish exports and investment. Team Sweden is tasked with making export market entry clear and simple for Swedish companies and consists of a common network for all public initiatives to support exports and internationalization.

The Government does not generally restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. The only exceptions are related to matters of national security and national defense; the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) is tasked with control and compliance regarding the sale and export of defense equipment and dual-use products. ISP is also the National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention and handles cases concerning targeted sanctions.

Sweden has concluded investment protection agreements with the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua (signed but not in force), Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe (signed but not in force). Sweden does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.

Sweden is a member of the EU. The EU manages trade relations with third countries in the form of trade agreements. A list of concluded free trade agreements can be found here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/trade-policy/trade-agreements/ 

BITs with third countries are available at the following link: International Investment Agreements Navigator | UNCTAD Investment Policy Hub 

Sweden is a member of the European Union. On May 5, 2020 the European Union member states agreed to terminate all intra-EU BITs. The European Union has 60 Treaties with Investment Provisions (TIPs) in force. They are available at the following link: EU (European Union) | International Investment Agreements Navigator | UNCTAD Investment Policy Hub 

Sweden and the United States signed a bilateral taxation treaty in 1994, which was amended in 2005. More information is available at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/international-businesses/sweden-tax-treaty-documents 

Sweden has concluded treaties of double taxation avoidance with the following countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Sweden is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and is party to the Inclusive Framework’s October 2021 agreement on the global minimum corporate tax.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

As an EU member, Sweden has altered its legislation to comply with the EU’s stringent rules on competition. The country has made extensive changes in its laws and regulations to harmonize with EU practices, all to avoid distortions in, or impediments to the efficient mobilization and allocation of investment. The institutions of the European Union are publicly committed to transparent regulatory processes. The European Commission has the sole right of initiative for EU regulations and publishes extensive, descriptive information on many of its activities. More information can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/decision-making/index_en.htm ; http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/index_en.htm .

There are no informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations. Nongovernmental organizations and private sector associations may submit comments to government draft bills. The submitted comments are made public in the public consultation process.

Rule-making and regulatory authority on a national level exists formally in the legislative branch, the Riksdag. As a member of the EU, a growing proportion of legislation and regulation stem from the EU. These laws apply in some case directly as national law or are put before the Riksdag to be enacted as national law. The executive branch, the Government of Sweden, and its various agencies draft laws and regulations that are put before the Riksdag and are adopted on a national level when they enter into force. Municipalities may draft regulations that are within their spheres of competence. These regulations apply at the respective municipality only and may vary between municipalities.

Sweden is in principle supportive of the EU-wide environmental, social, and governance (ESG) taxonomy for sustainable activities that was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 22 June 2020 and entered into force on 12 July 2020. The EU taxonomy is a classification system, establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities to help the EU scale up sustainable investment and implement the European green deal. The ambition is that the EU taxonomy would provide companies, investors, and policymakers with appropriate definitions for which economic activities can be considered environmentally sustainable. In this way, the taxonomy is believed to create security for investors, protect private investors from greenwashing, help companies to become more climate-friendly, mitigate market fragmentation, and help shift investments to where they are most needed.

Draft bills and regulations, which include investment laws, are made available for public comment through a public consultation process, along the lines of U.S. federal notice and comment procedures. Current and newly adopted legislation can be found at the Swedish Parliament’s homepage and in the various government agencies dealing with the relevant regulation: http://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/ . Key regulatory actions are published at Lagrummet: https://lagrummet.se/ . Lagrummet serves as the official site for information on Swedish legislation and provides information on legislation in the public domain, all statutes currently in force, and information on impending legislation. “Post och Inrikes Tidningar” serves in certain aspects a similar role as the Federal Register in the United States, through which public notifications are published. The proclamations of “Post och Inrikes Tidningar” can be found at the Swedish Companies Registration Office (Bolagsverket): https://poit.bolagsverket.se/poit/PublikPoitIn.do .

The judicial branch and various agencies are tasked with regulation oversight and/or regulation enforcement. The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen, known as the Justitieombuds-männen (JO), are tasked to make sure that public authority complies with the law and follows administrative processes. They also investigate complaints from the general public.

Regulations are reviewed on the basis of scientific and/or data-driven assessments. The principle of public access to official documents, offentlighetsprincipen, governs the availability of the results of studies that are conducted by government entities and furthermore to comments made by government entities. The principle provides the Swedish public with the right to study public documents as specified in the Freedom of the Press Act.

The status of Sweden’s public finances is available at Statistics Sweden, Sweden official statistics agency: https://www.scb.se/en/finding-statistics/statistics-by-subject-area/public-finances/ .

The status of Sweden’s national debt is available at the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden): https://www.riksgalden.se/en/statistics/statistics-regarding-swedens-central-government-debt/ .

International Regulatory Considerations

As an EU-member, Sweden complies with EU-legislation in shaping its national regulations.

If a national law, norm, or standard is found to be in conflict with EU-law, then the national law is altered to be in compliance with EU-law. Sweden adheres to the practices of WTO and coordinates its actions in regard to WTO with other EU-member countries as the EU-countries have a common trade policy.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Sweden’s legal system is based on the civil law tradition, common to Europe, and founded on classical Roman law, but has been further influenced by the German interpretation of this tradition. Swedish legislation and Swedish agencies provide guidance on whether regulations or enforcement actions are appealable and adjudicated in the national court system. Swedish courts are independent and free of influence from other branches of government, including the executive. Sweden has a written commercial law and contractual law and there are specialized courts, such as commercial and civil courts. The Swedish courts are divided into:

  • Courts of general jurisdiction (the District Courts, the Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court) which have jurisdiction with respect to civil and criminal cases;
  • Administrative courts (County Administrative Courts, Administrative Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Administrative Court) which have jurisdiction with respect to issues of public law, including taxation;
  • Specialist courts for disputes within certain legal areas such as labor law, environmental law, and market regulation.

Sweden is a signatory to the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Law; foreign awards may be enforced in Sweden regardless in which foreign country the arbitral proceedings took place. The main source of arbitration law in Sweden is the Swedish Arbitration Act, which contains both procedural and substantive regulations. Sweden is a party to the Lugano and the Brussels Conventions, and, by its membership of the EU, Sweden is also bound by the Brussels Regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters. An arbitral award is considered final and is not subject to substantive review by Swedish courts. However, arbitral awards may be challenged for reasons set out in the Arbitration Act. An award may, for example, be set aside after a challenge because of procedural errors which are likely to have influenced the outcome.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

During the 1990s, Sweden undertook significant deregulation of its markets. In a number of areas, including the electricity and telecommunication markets, Sweden has been on the leading edge of reform, resulting in more efficient sectors and lower prices. Nevertheless, a number of practical impediments to direct investments remain. These include a fairly extensive, though non-discriminatory, system of permits and authorizations needed to engage in many activities and the dominance of a few very large players in certain sectors, such as construction and food wholesaling. Foreign banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, and cooperative mortgage institutions are permitted to establish branches in Sweden on equal terms with domestic firms, although a permit is required. Swedes and foreigners alike may acquire shares in any company listed on NASDAQ OMX.

Sweden’s taxation structure is straightforward and corporate tax levels are low. In 2013, Sweden lowered its corporate tax from 26.3 percent to 22 percent in nominal terms and lowered it again to 21.4 percent in 2019, and to 20.6 percent in 2021. The effective rate can be even lower as companies have the option of making deductible annual appropriations to a tax allocation reserve of up to 25 percent of their pretax profit for the year. Companies can make pre-tax allocations to untaxed reserves, which are subject to tax only when utilized. Certain amounts of untaxed reserves may be used to cover losses. Due to tax exemptions on capital gains and dividends, as well as other competitive tax rules such as low effective corporate tax rates, deductible interest costs for tax purposes, no withholding tax on interest, no stamp duty or capital duties on share capital, and an extensive double tax treaty network, Sweden is among Europe’s most favorable jurisdictions for holding companies. Unlisted shares are always tax-exempt, meaning there is no qualification time or minimum holding of votes or capital. Listed shares are exempt if the holding represents at least 10 percent of the voting rights (or is contingent on the holder’s business) and the shares are held for at least one year. As part of a COVID-19 stimulus package, the government lowered the payroll tax for persons aged 19-23 from 31.42 percent to 19.73 percent. The lower rate is temporary and applies until March 31, 2023.

Personal income taxes are among the highest in the world. Since public finances have improved due to extensive consolidation packages to reduce deficits, the government has been able to reduce tax pressure as a percentage of GDP. Public debt as a share of GDP, though well below the national average in the EU area, rose to approximately 40 percent as a result of the enactment of several fiscal stimulus packages which aimed to boost the economy in the COVID-19 pandemic. Late 2022 figures indicate public debt will fall below 30 percent as a share of GDP by the end of 2023. Significant tax increases in the near future remain unlikely. One focus of the Swedish government has been tax reductions to encourage employers to hire the long-term unemployed.

Dividends paid by foreign subsidiaries in Sweden to their parent company are not subject to Swedish taxation. Dividends distributed to other foreign shareholders are subject to a 30 percent withholding tax under domestic law, unless dividends are exempt or taxed at a lower rate under a tax treaty. Tax liability may also be eliminated under the EU Parent Subsidiary Directive. Profits of a Swedish branch of a foreign company may be remitted abroad without being subject to any other tax than the regular corporate income tax. There is no exit taxation and no specific rules regarding taxation of stock options received before a move to Sweden. Instead, cases of double taxation are solved by applying tax treaties and cover not only moves within the EU but all countries, including the United States.

For detailed tax guidance, see the Swedish Tax Administration’s website (in English): http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish.4.12815e4f14a62bc048f4edc.html 

There is no primary or “one-stop-shop” website that provides relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements for investors. Business Sweden, Sweden’s official trade and investment organization, is the investment promotion agency tasked with developing business in Sweden. The services of the agency are available to all investors.

Competition and Antitrust Laws

As an EU member, Sweden has altered its legislation to comply with the EU’s stringent rules on competition. The competition law rules are contained in the Swedish Competition Act (2008:579), which entered into force in November 2008. The fundamental antitrust provisions have been the same since 1993. The Swedish Competition Authority (SCA) is the main enforcement authority of the Swedish Competition Act. The agency adheres to transparent norms and procedures, which are made available on its homepage: Konkurrensverket | Välfärd genom väl fungerande marknaderSwedish Competition Authority | Welfare through well-functioning markets . SCA decisions can be appealed to the administrative courts. This can be done by submitting a written appeal to the Swedish Competition Authority within three weeks from the day the applicant received the SCA’s initial decision.

Expropriation and Compensation

Private property is only expropriated for public purposes, in a non-discriminatory manner, with fair compensation, and in accordance with established principles of international law.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Sweden is a member of the World Bank-based International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and includes ICSID arbitration of investment disputes in many of its bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Sweden is a signatory to the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Law.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

There have been no major disputes over investment in Sweden in recent years. There is no history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Swedish arbitration law is advanced and in line with current best practice of international arbitration. The main source of arbitration law in Sweden is the Swedish Arbitration Act, which contains both procedural and substantive regulations. A revised version of the Swedish Arbitration Act (SAA) entered into force on March 1, 2019. The revised SAA intends to preserve Sweden’s position among Europe’s leading seats for international arbitration proceedings.

Sweden is a party to the Lugano and the Brussels Conventions and by its membership in the EU Sweden is bound by the Brussels Regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters. An arbitral award is considered final and is not subject to substantive review by Swedish courts. However, arbitral awards may be challenged for reasons set out in the Arbitration Act. An award may, for example, be set aside after challenge because of procedural errors, which are likely to have influenced the outcome. The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) has administered arbitrations under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules for many years, usually acting as the Appointing Authority. Parties to a dispute may adopt the Procedures by agreement before or after the dispute has arisen.

The SCC maintains different versions of the Procedures depending on which version of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules applies to the arbitration agreement in question (1976, 2010, 2013 or 2021 versions).

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Swedish legislation on bankruptcy is found in a number of laws that came into force in different periods of time and to serve different purposes. The main laws on insolvency are the Bankruptcy Act (1987:672) and the Company Reorganization Act (1996:764), but the Preferential Rights of Creditors Act (1970:979), the Salary Guarantee Act (1992:497), and the Companies Act (1975:1385) are equally important. In 2010, Sweden strengthened its secured transactions system through changes to the Rights of Priority Act that give secured creditors’ claims priority in cases of debtor default outside bankruptcy. According to data collected by the World Bank’s 2021 Doing Business Report, resolving insolvency takes two years on average and costs nine percent of the debtor’s estate, with the most likely outcome being that the company will be sold as a going concern. The average recovery rate is 78 cents on the dollar. Globally, Sweden ranked 10 of 190 economies on the ease of resolving insolvency in the Doing Business 2021 report.

Investment Incentives

The Swedish government offers certain incentives to set up a business in targeted depressed areas. Loans are available on favorable terms from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, Tillväxtverket, and from regional development funds. A range of regional support programs, including location and employment grants, low rent industrial parks, and economic free zones are available. Regional development support is concentrated in the lightly populated northern two-thirds of the country. In addition, EU grant and subsidy programs are generally available only for nationals and companies registered in the EU, usually on a national treatment basis. The Swedish government does not have a practice of issuing guarantees or jointly financing direct investment projects.

The Swedish government incentivizes investment in clean energy through a quota system, tax regulation mechanisms, and a subsidy scheme. For more information, visit the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) website: https://www.energimyndigheten.se/en/sustainability/  The Swedish government evaluates the efforts to support clean energy pursuant to Article 22 of Directive 2009/28 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. The most recent report (in Swedish) can be found here (link to download pdf): https://www.regeringen.se/4aff0d/contentassets/93b13493aa734f01bf14ade8412365a4/ses-5e-rapport-utvecklingen-fornybar-energi.pdf

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Sweden has foreign trade zones with bonded warehouses in the ports of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Jönköping. Goods may be stored indefinitely in these zones without customs clearance, but they may not be consumed or sold on a retail basis. Permission may be granted to use these goods as materials for industrial operations within a free trade zone. The same tax and labor laws apply to foreign trade zones as to other workplaces in Sweden. There are no Special Economic Zones in Sweden.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

As an EU Member State, Sweden adheres to the EU’s General Data Protection Directive (GDPR) (95/46/EC) which spells out strict rules concerning the processing of personal data. Businesses must tell consumers that they are collecting data, what they intend to use it for, and to whom it will be disclosed. Data subjects must be given the opportunity to object to the processing of their personal details and to opt-out of having them used for direct marketing purposes. This opt-out should be available at the time of collection and at any point thereafter. GDPR entered into force on May 18, 2018 – and it is a Regulation, i.e., directly applicable in member states.

Since the July 2020 ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, the United States and EU engaged intensely and constructively to find a solution to the critical need to enable transatlantic data transfers. In March 2022, EU Commission President von der Leyen and President Biden announced an agreement in principle on a new EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework. The agreement in principle was further advanced by an Executive Order by President Biden on 7 October 2022 – a major step to have it implemented into U.S. law. On 13 December 2022, the European Commission launched the process to adopt an adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework. The draft adequacy decision – which concluded that the United States should ensure an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the EU to the United States – was transmitted to the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), which approved the draft. The Commission draft is currently in a committee composed of representatives of the EU member states; the European Parliament also has the right of scrutiny over adequacy decisions. The expectation is that the Commission may adopt the final adequacy decision in the June or July 2023 timeframe.

The Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection, Integritetsskyddsmyndigheteten, works to prevent encroachment upon privacy through information and by issuing directives and codes of statutes. Integritetsskyddsmyndigheteten (IMY) also handles complaints and carries out inspections. By examining government bills, IMY ensures that new laws and ordinances protect personal data in an adequate manner. Further guidance and information are available in English on their website at Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection | IMY . There are no measurements that prevent or unduly impede companies from freely transmitting customer or other business-related data outside Sweden’s territory. Sweden imposes no performance requirements on presumptive foreign investors.

In general, there is no government policy that requires the hiring of nationals. There are no excessively onerous visa, residence, work permit, or similar requirements inhibiting mobility of foreign investors and their employees. Sweden does not follow “forced localization,” the policy in which foreign investors must use domestic content in goods or technology and there are no requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption.

Various municipal-level agencies and business associations have targeted U.S. cloud service providers in Sweden. These entities have claimed that any information processed by a U.S. cloud provider is subject to U.S. government scrutiny through the CLOUD Act, limiting customers’ privacy. This perception has adversely impacted U.S. cloud service providers’ sales in Sweden and given local cloud service firms an unfair advantage in the market. In addition, this perception has spurred a two-year government project to examine the options for the development of a Swedish government cloud, effectively halting U.S. cloud service sales as customers await the investigation’s outcome. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government’s investigation report was delayed. The final part of the report was released on December 15, 2021.  The report proposed that the government initiates an assignment to establish a coordinated state IT operation beginning 1 January 2023.  Final reporting of the assignment must take place no later than 30 June 2024. The ordinance on coordinated government IT operations and necessary changes the authorities’ instructions shall enter into force on 1 July 2024.

Real Property

Swedish law generally provides for adequate protection of real property. Mortgages and liens exist, and the recording system is reliable. Almost all land has clear title and unoccupied property ownership cannot revert to other owners. Financial mechanisms are available in Sweden for securitization of properties for lending purposes and have been in use since the early 1990s. Nordic banks account for the vast majority of secured lending transactions. The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, Finansinspektionen, can provide further information regarding the regulations involved with securitization of properties at https://www.fi.se/en/ .

Intellectual Property Rights

As a member of the European Union, Sweden adheres to a series of multilateral conventions on industrial, intellectual, and commercial property.

Patents: Protection in all areas of technology may be obtained for 20 years. Sweden is a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the European Patent Convention of 1973; both entered into force in 1978.

Copyrights: Sweden is a signatory to various multilateral conventions on the protection of copyrights, including the Berne Convention of 1971, the Rome Convention of 1961, and the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Swedish copyright law protects computer programs and databases. Between 2005-2008, Sweden gained notoriety as a safe haven for internet piracy due to rapid internet connection speeds, a lag in implementing EU Directives, and weak enforcement efforts. In 2009, however, Sweden implemented the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) 2004/48/EC and increased its enforcement against internet piracy and, a few years later, also saw the conviction of the operators behind the Pirate Bay.org, a notorious BitTorrent tracker for illegal file sharing, and an increase in legal file sharing. Legislative measures combined with added resources for enforcement and the emergence of successful legal alternatives have all contributed to a substantial increase in music and film distribution by legal means since 2010. In 2016, Sweden set up a Specialist Court for IPR-related cases, to further increase efficiency by pooling specialist competence. In 2020, severe copyright infringement was added to the criminal code, giving police and prosecutors additional enforcement tools, and increasing the maximum penalty for such crimes to six years imprisonment.

Trademarks: Sweden protects trademarks under a specific trademark act (1960:644) and is a signatory to the 1989 Madrid Protocol.

Trade secrets: Proprietary information is protected under Sweden’s patent and copyright laws unless acquired by a government ministry or authority, in which case it may be made available to the public on demand.

Designs: Sweden is a party to the Paris Convention and the Locarno Agreement and designs are protected by the Swedish Design Protection Act, as well as the Council Regulation on Registered and Unregistered Designs. Protection under the act lasts for renewable terms of one, or several five-year periods with a maximum protection of 25 years.

Sweden is not included in USTR’s Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en .

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Credit is allocated on market terms and is made available to foreign investors in a non-discriminatory fashion. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are transparent and consistent with international norms. NASDAQ-OMX is a modern, open, and active forum for domestic and foreign portfolio investment. It is Sweden’s official stock exchange and operates under specific legislation. Furthermore, the Swedish government is neutral toward portfolio investment and Sweden has a fully capable regulatory system that encourages and facilitates portfolio investments.

Money and Banking System

Several foreign banks, including Citibank, have established branch offices in Sweden, and several niche banks have started to compete in the retail bank market. The three largest Swedish banks are Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB), Svenska Handelsbanken, and Swedbank. Nordea is the largest foreign bank and largest bank in Sweden, while Danske Bank is the second largest foreign bank and the fifth largest bank in Sweden. A deposit insurance system was introduced in 1996, whereby individuals received protection of up to 29,250 USD (SEK 250,000) of their deposits in case of bank insolvency. On December 31, 2010, the maximum compensation was raised to the SEK equivalent of 100,000 euro.

The Swedish Central Bank, Riksbank, functions as Sweden’s central bank system. https://www.riksbank.se/en-gb/ 

The banks’ activities are supervised by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, Finansinspektionen, http://www.fi.se , to ensure that standards are met. Swedish banks’ financial statements meet international standards and are audited by internationally recognized auditors only. The Swedish Bankers’ Association, http://www.bankforeningen.se , represents banks and financial institutions in Sweden. The association works closely with regulators and policy makers in Sweden and Europe. Sweden is not part of the Eurozone; however, Swedish commercial banks offer euro-denominated accounts and payment services.

On July 1, 2014, Sweden signed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) agreement with the United States. Financial institutions in Sweden are now obligated to submit information in accordance with FATCA to the Swedish Tax Agency. In February 2015, the Swedish Parliament decided on new laws and regulations needed to implement FATCA. The Parliamentary decision means the government’s proposals in Bill 2014/15:41 were adopted, including for example, the introductions of:

  • a law on the identification of reportable accounts with respect to the agreement;
  • changes to the tax procedure act;
  • new legislation on the exchange of information with respect to the agreement; and
  • consequential amendments to the Income Tax Act and other laws.

The provisions entered into force on April 1, 2015. For the full text of Bill 2014/15:41, please see http://www.regeringen.se/contentassets/bd8cf7f897364944b35f5f30c099bc0c/genomforande-av-avtal-mellan-sveriges-regering-och-amerikas-forenta-staters-regering-for-att-forbattra-internationell-efterlevnad-av-skatteregler-och-for-att-genomfora-fatca-prop.-20141541 .
Foreign banks or branches offering financial services must have an authorization from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, Finansinspektionen, to conduct operations. As part of the authorization application process, FI reviews the firm’s capital situation, business plan, owners, and management. Parts of the firm’s daily operations may also require authorization from FI. The applicable regulatory code can be found at Our registers | Finansinspektionen. 

There are no reported losses of correspondent banking relationships in the past three years and there are no current correspondent banking relationships that are in jeopardy. Foreigners have the right to open an account in a bank in Sweden provided they can identify themselves and the bank conducts an identity check. The bank cannot require the person to have a Swedish personal identity number or an address in Sweden.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Sweden adheres to a floating exchange rate regime and the national currency rate fluctuates.

Remittance Policies

Sweden does not impose any restrictions on remittances of profits, proceeds from the liquidation of an investment, or royalty and license fee payments. A subsidiary or branch may transfer fees to a parent company outside of Sweden for management services, research expenditures, etc. Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into any world currency. In general, yields on invested funds, such as dividends and interest receipts, may be freely transferred. A foreign-owned firm may also raise foreign currency loans both from its parent corporation and credit institutions abroad. There are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies. There are no time limitations on remittances.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Sweden does not maintain a sovereign wealth fund or similar entity.

The Swedish state is Sweden’s largest corporate owner and employer. Forty-three companies are entirely or partially state-owned, of which two are listed on the Stockholm stock exchange and have government representatives on their boards. Approximately 134,000 people are employed by these companies, including associated companies. Sectors which feature State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), include energy/power generation, forestry, mining, finance, telecom, postal services, gambling, and retail liquor sales. These companies operate under the same laws as private companies, although the government appoints board members, reflecting government ownership. Like private companies, SOEs have appointed boards of directors, and the government is constitutionally prevented from direct involvement in the company’s operations. Like private companies, SOE’s publish their annual reports, which are subject to independent audit. Private enterprises compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations and provide non-discriminatory treatment in their purchase and sale of goods and services. Moreover, Sweden is party to the General Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Swedish SOEs adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs. A substantial majority of the Swedish SOEs operate solely domestically, but some SOEs competing in the domestic marketplace – such as mining corporation LKAB, telecom operator Telia, air carrier SAS, and energy utilities company Vattenfall – are also exposed to international competition or have international operations to a varying extent. For example, LKAB operates mainly in Kiruna, located in northern Sweden, but has a presence in 12 countries around the world. Telia previously expanded on the international market by acquiring stakes in other telecom operators but in recent years has divested from its international holdings to focus on its core markets Sweden and Finland. SAS, the outcome of a merger between three national air carriers – Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S (DDL), Det Norske Luftfartselskap A/S (DNL), and Svensk Interkontinetal Lufttrafik AB (SILA) – operates internationally, including providing intercontinental flights to the United States. Through acquisitions, Vattenfall’s main markets are Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Great Britain. Swedish SOEs do not have substantial investment in the United States. Further information regarding the Swedish SOEs can be found here: http://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/bolag-med-statligt-agande/ .

Privatization Program

The current Swedish government, voted into office in September 2022, has not made any announcements regarding divestiture or liquidation of holdings in SOEs. In June 2022 the previous government announced that it would it divest its holdings in Orio (formerly Saab Automobile Parts), which had been acquired in 2012 through the Swedish Debt Office. Hedin Mobility Group acquired Orio following a bidding process. If the government decides to further divest or liquidate holdings, then a subsequent public bidding process would be implemented.

There is widespread awareness of responsible business conduct (RBC) among both producers and consumers in Sweden. All businesses are expected to comply with local laws and regulations, and to observe the international norms and principles for human rights, labor protection, sustainable development, and anti-corruption. Firms that pursue RBC are viewed favorably, often publicizing their adherence to generally accepted RBC principles such as those contained in OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Volvo Trucks, for example, has collaborated with USAID in pursuing RBC efforts outside of Sweden. The Swedish National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines can be found at: https://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/handel-och-investeringsframjande/nationella-kontaktpunkten/ .

The Government of Sweden has adopted a platform for sustainable business, the term it uses for efforts related to RBC/CSR (link to pdf): https://www.government.se/49b750/contentassets/539615aa3b334f3cbedb80a2b56a22cb/sustainable-business—a-platform-for-swedish-action .

Sweden effectively and fairly enforces domestic laws in relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts. There are no alleged/reported human or labor rights concerns relating to RBC that foreign businesses should be aware of, as for example, alleged instances of forced and/or child labor in domestic supply chains, forced evictions of indigenous peoples, or arrests of and violence against environmental defenders.

In February 2022, the European Commission presented its proposal for a directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence as part of the EU’s green deal. The draft directive is proposed to cover, among other things, companies that operate on the EU market, have more than 500 employees, and have a turnover of over 150 million euros. The purpose of the directive is for companies to have a due diligence process in place to manage their actual and potential impact on human rights and the environment through potentially the entire value chain. The companies covered must also have a plan to ensure that their business strategy is compatible with the 1.5 degree target and the Paris Agreement. As a member of the EU, Sweden will comply with the directives that the EU decides to enact and will harmonize existing domestic legislation in relation to human rights, labor rights, and related rights legislation with the EU directive when it is enacted.

Sweden has put in place corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. Sweden is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).Sweden is one of seventeen states that have finalized The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. It is a supporter of and participant in International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

Representatives of the Indigenous Sámi people have repeatedly requested meaningful consultation on issues that relate to mining, wind, and other projects proposed for their areas.  One area of focus is the proposed Gállok (Kallak) iron ore mine in Laponia, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and an area where the Sámi villages Jåhkågasska and Sirges keep winter pastures for reindeer.  UN Human Rights Council special rapporteurs urged against a license for the open pit mine, which they noted would create significant and irreversible risks to Sámi lands, resources, culture, and livelihoods.  The Sámi also express concern about the lack of good-faith consultations and the failure to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent of the Sámi.  Sweden adopted a new law in January 2022, which requires consultations with the Sámi on issues that affect their interests.  The law was enacted March 1, 2022 at the national level, but municipal and regional consultations will not be required until March 1, 2024. On January 23, 2020, Sweden’s supreme court ruled that Sámi exclusive hunting and fishing rights lost in 1993 should be restored to the Sámi village Girjas from the Swedish state. The ruling has been interpreted as a move to restore lost land resource rights to the Sámi.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Sweden adopted in January 2018 a Climate Policy Framework consisting of three pillars: revised climate policy targets, a climate law binding future governments to targets set by Parliament, and a Climate Policy Council. Sweden’s long-term climate target is to achieve zero net GHG emissions by 2045 and to reach negative emissions after that (i.e., emissions lower than what nature absorbs and/or the amount of GHG emissions Sweden curbs abroad through funding climate projects in other countries). To achieve that, remaining emissions within Sweden need to be at least 85 percent lower than emissions in 1990. The climate law requires the Swedish government to present a climate policy action plan to Parliament at the beginning of each quadrennial parliamentary cycle and to report to Parliament on its implementation each year. The national Climate Policy Council – an independent, interdisciplinary expert body comprised of scholars and experts from a broad range of society – is tasked with evaluating how well government policy is aligned with the 2045 goal.

Sweden also has a framework in place to safeguard biodiversity and a sustainable environment referred to as “Sweden’s environmental goals.” The environmental goal system consists of a generational goal, 16 environmental quality goals and milestones in the areas of waste, biodiversity, hazardous substances, sustainable urban development, air pollution and climate. Sweden’s environmental goals are the national implementation of the environmental dimension of the global sustainability goals. The framework can be found here: https://www.sverigesmiljomal.se/miljomalen/ 

There are regulatory incentives implemented by the Swedish government to achieve policy outcomes that preserve biodiversity, clean air, or other desirable ecological benefits.

Public procurement policies in Sweden include environmental and green growth considerations such as resource efficiency, pollution abatement, and climate resilience. Sweden refers to its implemented procurement policy framework as “sustainable public procurement” and it includes not only the impact on the environment, but also a broader definition of sustainability, which includes the social and economic dimensions. More information can be found at The National Public Procurement Agency (Upphandlingsmyndigheten): https://www.upphandlingsmyndigheten.se/en/sustainable-public-procurement/ 

Investors have an extremely low likelihood of encountering corruption in Sweden. While there have been cases of domestic corruption at the municipal level, most companies have high anti-corruption standards, and an investor would not typically be put in the position of having to pay a bribe to conduct business.

There are cases of Swedish companies operating overseas that have been charged with bribing foreign officials; however, these cases are relatively rare. Although Sweden has comprehensive laws against corruption, and ratified the 1997 OECD Anti-bribery Convention, in June of 2012, the OECD Anti-Bribery Working Group has given an unfavorable review of Swedish compliance to the dictates of that Convention. The group faulted Sweden for not having a single conviction of a Swedish company for bribery in the last eight years, for having unreasonably low fines, and for not re-framing their legal system so that a corporation could be charged with a crime. Swedish officials object to the review, claiming that lack of convictions is not proof of prosecutorial indifference, but rather indicative of high standards of ethics in Swedish companies. In 2019, the OECD Anti-Bribery Working Group repeated its recommendations and urged Sweden to follow them. Over the last five years, two high-profile cases have involved Swedish companies. Telia Company’s operations in Uzbekistan received considerable public attention and cost the CEO and other senior officials their jobs. Telia Company was in the process of divesting its operations in Uzbekistan following a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) pertaining to illegal payments. In September 2017, Telia Company reached an agreement to pay $965.8 million to settle U.S. and European criminal and civil charges that the company had paid bribes to win business in Uzbekistan.

In December 2019, Ericsson reached an agreement with the Department of Justice to pay more than $1 billion to resolve a foreign corrupt practices case which involved bribing government officials, falsifying books and records, and failing to implement reasonable internal accounting controls.  The resolutions covered criminal conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kuwait.  Ericsson also entered into a three-year Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the DOJ. As part of this resolution, Ericsson agreed to engage an independent compliance monitor for three years. The monitor’s main responsibilities include reviewing Ericsson’s compliance with the terms of the settlement and evaluating Ericsson’s progress in implementing and operating its enhanced compliance program and accompanying controls as well as providing recommendations for improvements. On March 1, 2022, the DOJ informed Ericsson that the disclosure made by the company prior to the DPA about its internal investigation into conduct in Iraq in the period 2011 until 2019 was insufficient. Furthermore, it determined that the company breached the DPA by failing to make subsequent disclosure related to the investigation post-DPA. On March 3, 2023, Ericsson agreed to plead guilty and to pay a criminal penalty of more than $206 million for having breached the 2019 DPA.

Sweden does not have a specific agency devoted exclusively to anti-corruption, but a number of agencies cooperate together. A list of Sweden’s Public and Private Anti-Corruption Initiatives can be found at https://www.ganintegrity.com/portal/country-profiles/sweden .

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery
Sweden has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention (see list of signatories at http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/signatories.html ).

Sweden is party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (see list of signatories and their implementation reports at http://www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery/countryreportsontheimplementationoftheoecdanti-briberyconvention.htm ).

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

The National Anti-Corruption Group at the Swedish Police, Nationella anti-korruptionsgruppen, handles the investigation of corruption offenses and is engaged in prevention efforts. Corruption claims can be reported to the Group by calling +46 114 14.

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:

Watchdog organization:
Transparency International Sweden
Telephone: + 46 (0)72 74 45 558
E-mail address: info@transparency.se
https://www.transparency.se/ 

Sweden is politically stable, and no changes are expected.

In 2022, there were 5,146,000 people aged 15–74 years in the labor force, not seasonally adjusted. There were 2,735,000 men and 2,411,000 women in the labor force. The relative labor force participation rate was 74.7 percent. This rate was 71.2 percent for men and 64.9 percent for women. Sweden’s labor force is disciplined, well educated, and highly skilled. Approximately 68 percent of the Swedish labor force is unionized, although membership is declining. Swedish unions have helped to implement business restructuring to remain competitive, and strongly favor employee education and technical advancements. Management- labor cooperation is generally excellent and non-confrontational. The National Mediation Office, which mediates labor disputes in Sweden, reported in its summary findings for 2021 that eleven working days were lost due to a strike in Sweden in 2021 compared to zero in 2020.

Foreign/migrant workers are covered by Swedish and EU labor laws. Labor laws are not waived in order to attract or retain investment. In general, there is no government policy that requires the hiring of nationals.

Sweden has a Co-determination at Work Act, which provides for labor representation on the boards of corporate directors once a company has reached more than 25 employees. This law also requires management to negotiate with the appropriate union, or unions prior to implementing certain major changes in company activities. It calls for a company to furnish information on many aspects of its economic status to labor representatives. Labor and management usually find this system works to their mutual benefit. The Co-determination at Work Act and the Employment Protection Act together set the rules for the adjustment employment to respond to fluctuating market conditions. Severances and layoffs are based on seniority and are conducted in consultation with unions. Unemployment insurance and other social safety net programs are available for workers laid off for economic reasons. Government-sponsored training programs to facilitate the transition for unemployed persons into areas reporting labor shortages are available, but their scope is targeted.

The cost of doing business in Sweden is generally comparable to most OECD countries, though some country-specific cost advantages are present. Overall salary costs have become increasingly competitive due to relatively modest wage increases over the last decade and a favorable exchange rate. This development is even more pronounced for highly qualified personnel and researchers.

There is no fixed minimum wage by legislation. Instead, wages are set by collective bargaining by sector. The traditionally low-wage differential has increased in recent years as a result of increased wage setting flexibility at the company level. Still, Swedish unskilled employees are relatively well paid, while well-educated Swedish employees are relatively less well paid compared to those in competitor countries. The average increases in real wages in recent years have been high by historical standards, in large part due to price stability. Even so, nominal wages in recent years have been slightly above those in competitor countries, about two percent annually. Employers must pay social security fees of about 31.5 percent. The fee consists of statutory contributions for pensions, health insurance, and other social benefits.

Sweden has ratified most International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions dealing with worker’s rights, freedom of association, collective bargaining, and the major working conditions and occupational safety and health conventions. More information on Sweden’s labor agreements and legislation in English can be found on the Swedish Trade Union Confederation’s website at http://www.lo.se/english/startpage .

An amended Labor law was agreed upon in June 2021 and entered into force on June 30, 2022. The amendments to the Labor law gave employers greater flexibility to manage their workforce based on the skills needed for their business and improve predictability at various stages in a dismissal process. Employees in return received more predictability regarding different employment conditions and forms of employment. Employers were, among other things, given an increased opportunity to make exceptions from the order of ending employment contracts, as Swedish labor laws are based on seniority. The rules for dismissal for personal reasons were made clearer in the amended law and the employer does not bear the wage cost in the event of dismissal disputes. At the same time, there will be a better balance between employees with different employment conditions.

Sweden is a member of the EU. The EU impacts Sweden’s trade relationship with the United States in that the EU has a common trade policy for all member countries.

A study conducted by the Swedish Tax Authority in 2020 assessed the size of the informal economy in Sweden to be 2.3 percent as a share of GDP (2006 figure) and the share had remained largely constant in the last thirteen years.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, DFC, does not operate in Sweden.

 

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2021 $600,340 2021 $635,660 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2021 $37,294 2021 $57,698 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2021 $103,077 2021 $71,453 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2021 $60.0% 2021 61.6% UNCTAD data available at https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report

* Source for Host Country Data: Statistics Sweden (SCB).

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 411,825 100% Total Outward 479,101 100%
United Kingdom 69,073 16.7% United States 103,745 21.6%
Luxembourg 59,629 14.5% The Netherlands  43,578 9.1%
The Netherlands 55,292 13.4% Norway  36,923 7.7%
Germany 38,873 9.4% United Kingdom  33,620 7.0%
United States 37,504 9.1% Denmark  27,031 5.6%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Economic Unit
U.S. Embassy Stockholm
Dag Hammarskjölds Väg 31115 89 Stockholm, Sweden
+46 (0)8 783 5309
http://www.export.gov/sweden
StockholmICS@state.gov

U.S. Commercial Service
U.S. Embassy Stockholm
115 89 Stockholm, Sweden
https://www.export.gov/sweden 
office.stockholm@trade.gov

On This Page

  1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  2. 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
    1. Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
    3. Other Investment Policy Reviews
    4. Business Facilitation
    5. Outward Investment
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
  4. 3. Legal Regime
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System
    2. International Regulatory Considerations
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
    5. Competition and Antitrust Laws
    6. Expropriation and Compensation
    7. Dispute Settlement
      1. ICSID Convention and New York Convention
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement
      3. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
    8. Bankruptcy Regulations
  5. 4. Industrial Policies
    1. Investment Incentives
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights
    1. Real Property
    2. Intellectual Property Rights
  7. 6. Financial Sector
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
    2. Money and Banking System
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances
      1. Foreign Exchange
      2. Remittance Policies
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises
    1. Privatization Program
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct
    1. Climate Issues
  10. 9. Corruption
    1. Resources to Report Corruption
  11. 10. Political and Security Environment
  12. 11. Labor Policies and Practices
  13. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
  14. 13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
  15. 14. Contact for More Information
2023 Investment Climate Statements: Sweden
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