Sweden

Market overview

Unlike its Nordic neighbours, Sweden did not institute a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. The Government did place some restrictions on social interactions, but primary schools remain open, gyms continue to operate, and there are no restrictions on movement around the country. Sweden remains 'open for business'.

The Government's Verksamt.se website provides up to date information for businesses on COVID-19.

For more information on doing business in Sweden, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance.   


Economy and trade

Sweden's less stringent lockdown measures have meant that the economy, especially the services sector, has been less hard-hit than in some other countries and compared to its Nordic neighbours. Many restaurants, bars, shops and other service providers were still operating, albeit at a reduced level.

However, sales halved for a quarter of businesses by the end of March, according to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv). Six in 10 firms say they are struggling with financial or liquidity-related issues. Lender Nordea cautioned that firms may lose as much as 90% of profits in the second quarter, gradually rebounding in the third and fourth quarters.

Swedbank has forecast that unemployment may reach 10% by the middle of the year and that Sweden's GDP will decline by 4.2% in 2020 (but then increase by 3.9% in 2021). The Swedish Konjunktur Institutet expects an even bigger GDP decline of up to 7% in 2020.

Supply chain, logistics and freight

Ports

The largest ports in Sweden (Gothenburg, Trelleborg, Helsingborg, and Stockholm) have not restricted their activities and continue to receive both goods and passengers.

The terminals of the Copenhagen-Malmö Port in both Denmark and Sweden also remain open. Only passenger traffic on the Danish side was suspended until 1 June.

Logistics and Freight

Freight traffic in Sweden runs mostly without restrictions.

Government support

The Swedish Government introduced a rescue package for businesses, pledging SEK 125 billion (€12.5 billion) of loans and loan guarantees. The package includes capital injections, as well as credit and credit guarantees to cover costs incurred as a result of the crisis, with a particular focus on SMEs and firms providing exporting services. Policies include:

  • Rent reduction for the most impacted sectors (particularly the restaurant and hotel industry), with the Government paying up to 50% of the rent from 1 April to 30 June 2020.

  • Deferment of tax payment and charges. Companies can defer payment of employers' social security contributions, preliminary tax on salaries and VAT. Companies can apply via the Swedish Tax Agency (English language).

  • Loans for SMEs. The state will guarantee 70% of a loan from banks to companies which are facing economic difficulties due to COVID-19. You can read more on this proposal here (English language).

  • Increased loan facilities and credit guarantees for Swedish businesses, to make it easier for Swedish businesses to access finance. More information here (English language).

  • Sick pay. The Government assumed the cost of all sick pay during April and May.

  • Short-term layoff protection. This scheme allows employers' wage costs can be reduced by half, with the state covering a larger share of the costs, in order to retain Swedish jobs. This scheme was introduced from 16 March, with employees being eligible for more than 90% of their wage.

On 13 March, Sweden's Central Bank, the Riksbank, announced it will lend up to SEK 500 billion (€45.5 billion) to banks to help onward lending for struggling companies during the crisis. The Risksbank will also buy securities for up to an additional SEK 300 billion.

You can read more about what the Riksbank is doing to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 here (English language).

KPMG offers an overview of Swedish government and institutional measures in response to COVID-19, including economic stimulus measures, here.

Advice to exporters

In terms of immediate activity, make the safety and wellbeing of teams your priority, and invest as needed to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. Many businesses are still allowing employees to work from home where this is possible. Check in with your business partners and see how they are doing and how you might be able to support them during this time.

Consumer sentiment

McKinsey has carried out a survey on Swedes during the COVID-19 crisis. The survey found that Swedish consumers are concerned about the economy and adjusting their spending accordingly.

  • Optimism of Swedish consumers for a quick economic recovery is low. Over 20% think COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on the economy

  • 25% of survey respondents are reducing their spending, and around two-thirds believe their finances will be impacted for more than two months because of COVID-19

  • Swedes have decreased their spending expectations across all categories except grocery and entertainment at home

  • The main concerns for Swedes are the uncertain length of the pandemic, health of relatives and the Swedish economy.

Travel

While European travel has opened up for EU members, Norway, Denmark and Finland have currently closed their borders to Sweden. Travel options to and from Sweden are significantly reduced due to COVID-related restrictions.

There is currently a 14-day isolation period required for those entering the UK from Sweden.


Sector insights

As is to be expected, numerous sectors have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below you'll find information on any COVID-19 effects across important sectors and industries in Sweden.

Food and beverage

Although Swedish restaurants and bars have remained open, with official bans only on mingling at bar counters and gatherings of more than 50 people, the number of guests has diminished.

A digital survey conducted by the Swedish Food Federation in early April indicates that small and medium-sized food companies are struggling. It shows that in the past month, three-quarters of companies lost sales. As many as 40% of the companies experienced a significant drop in demand. In addition, seven out of ten companies see no improvement in the coming month. So far, only 3% of the companies had experienced large supply disruptions, but 10% expect major supply disruptions in future.

The Federation states that the government's support measures for the business sector (such as temporary discounts for fixed rental costs in vulnerable sectors) are commendable but insufficient, and proposes further measures to strengthen small and medium-sized food businesses here.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies

Covid19.govt.nz
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
Business.govt.nz
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Immigration
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand
myNZTE

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.