As it is a member of the European Union, Sweden applies the Community regulations which are valid throughout the Union. If the EU has quite a liberal foreign trade policy, there are a certain number of restrictions, especially at the level of agricultural products, ensuing from the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): applying compensations when importing and exporting agricultural products to favor the development of agriculture within the EU implies a certain number of systems to control and regulate goods entering EU territory. Moreover, for sanitary reasons, as regards the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms, if they are allowed in Europe, their presence must, for example, be systematically specified on packaging. It is also prohibited to import beef fed on hormones. The BSE crisis (called "mad cow disease") has encouraged the European authorities to reinforce phytosanitary measures to ensure the quality of meat entering and circulating in EU countries. The principle of precaution is now more widely favored: in case of doubt, import is prohibited until the non- noxiousness of the goods is proved.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Transactions carried out within the EEA are exempt from duties. The Common Customs Tariff (CCT) of the European Union is applied to goods from outside the EU. In general, duties are not very high, especially for industrial products (4.2% on average).
The European Community (EC) Combined Nomenclature integrates the Harmonized System Nomenclature and comprises supplementary subdivisions with eight digits and its own legal terms created for Community purposes.
When goods are imported into Sweden, it is the responsibility of the importer or his agent to make the Customs declaration. The SAD (single administrative document) is used for this. The document may be presented in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English or German. An invoice must be presented with the SAD duly filled out.
As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
For importing, exporting and re-exporting commercial samples, the ATA carnet may be used.
The determining factor for Swedish consumers is price, followed by quality. It is very important for them to obtain information before buying something, especially as regards consumer durables. Other major factors when choosing are value for money, the salesperson's know-how, and after sales services. When buying furniture and household appliances, the deciding factors are the range of choice, price and the transparency of the offer. Swedish people are loyal to brands and to shops. A large proportion of the population is connected to Internet, and it is used frequently to obtain information as well as to make a purchase.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
On average, Swedish consumers have resources and purchasing power well above that of most other European consumers. They are used to a higher standard of living than in most other European countries and have high expectations. Swedish consumers are spending more and more.
The total retail sales increased by 3.7%t in 2009 to 602 billion SEK (60 billion EUR).
Generally speaking, Sweden has followed the same pattern of evolution as other Western countries over the last 20 years, i.e. the appearance of huge shopping malls located on the outskirts of towns, whose growth is to the detriment of the retailers situated in the city center. Distribution remains very structured and dominated by a few large groups, but there are a large number of specialized retailers offering more top of the range goods. The Swedish market often serves as a bridgehead for reaching the Scandinavian markets and the Baltic countries. Many European companies are present in this competitive market.
Swedish distribution of consumer goods is very structured even though there is still a large number of specialized retailers. Food distribution, for example, is concentrated around 3 groups: - Ica Sveridge AB ( Ahold group) 1883 outlets. Axfood AB, 883 outlets, it is specialized in "soft discount", i.e. very large discount stores. Coop Sveridge AB(KF), 879 outlets, it is losing market share. But a new group has appeared, the Bergendalhs group, 139 outlets.
The non-food sector is dominated by Swedish groups mainly (H&M in clothing or Ikea in furniture). However, new foreign brands are setting up progressively in Sweden (Mango, Zara in clothing).
Distribution of domestic goods transport: road 64% (39.9 billion t/km), train 36% (22.3 billion t/km). Sea transport is vital for Sweden with its 2,700 km of coastline and its many islands. Almost all international transactions are carried out by sea as well as half of domestic trade.
The industrial sector is well developed. Since 1994, industrial production in Sweden has risen by 70%. The industrial sector contributes 28.1% to GDP. It is characterized by groups such as Volvo, Saab, Ericsson, ABB, AstraZeneca, Electrolux, Ikea, H&M, etc. Sweden's main manufacturing activities are processing wood, paper, electronic equipment, industrial food preparation, pharmaceutical products, etc. The new sectors of technologies and biotechnologies are significantly important in the economy.