Swedish seesaw: as opportunity knocks, they bust our chops
A possible Swedish pork boycott is threatening to derail huge advances in exports between the countries
As is often the case in football matches between Sweden and Denmark, it has been a game of two halves in the world of trade between the two nations this past week.
Economists barely had a day to chew over the news that Danish exports to Sweden are expected to increase by 7.5 percent over the next two years, when reports emerged that most of this could be struck off by a proposed Swedish boycott of Danish pork.
Representatives from pork producer Danish Crown and several agriculture associations were called to an emergency meeting in Stockholm on Monday to answer concerns about their farming methods.
The Swedish swine industry does not fixate sows – a common practice in Denmark that involves the animals being strapped down between tight iron bars on a bare concrete floor and fed genetically modified feed and antibiotics.
Punish the swines
just last week, Swedish supermarket chain ICA banned Danish pork at two of its stores in Skurup and Göthenborg and replaced it with home-produced pork.
Additionally, a survey in the Swedish newspaper Expressen revealed that three out of four readers were in favour of banning Danish pork.
And the Swedish agriculture minister, Eskild Erlandsson, has demanded Danish pork producers to improve living conditions for the pigs. “Those who don't do it should get their ears pulled so hard it hurts,” Erlandsson told Expressen.
Bringing home the bacon
Pork exports to Sweden make up 2.5 percent of Denmark's total exports of 1.9 million tonnes a year – and any decline will need to be factored into the figures released last weekend by the Danish export council Danmarks Eksportråd predicting an upsurge in exports.
Danish exports to Sweden are expected to increase by three percent in 2014 and a further 4.4 percent in 2015 – a welcome turnaround after exports dipped by 7.5 percent in 2013.
Sweden’s not sexy
“Sweden might not be the most sexy export market, but measured in billions of kroner, Sweden is essential for Danish exports,” Allan Sørensen, a consultant for industry advocates Dansk Industri, told Børsen business newspaper.
“Sweden is a huge recipient of Denmark’s exports, and it is so important that we see a positive movement in that market, because a decline could equal out all the progress we make in other markets outside Europe.”
Should the predictions hold true, overall exports to Sweden will rise to 80.1 billion kroner by 2015 and come close to surpassing the all-time export record to Sweden, which was 80.6 billion krona in 2012.
In recent years, a stronger Swedish krone has made life difficult for the Swedish export and industry sector, but it has since fallen back again, which spells good news for Danish companies.
But the Swedes are still ahead of the Danes when it comes to growth predictions. OECD indicators expect that Sweden will enjoy growth of 2.8 percent in 2014 and three percent in 2015. The most optimistic growth level predictions for Denmark are just two percent.
Sweden is Denmark's second-largest export market, second only to Germany.
A breakdown of Danish exports to Sweden in 2013 reveals that energy and raw materials accounted for 24 percent, followed by machines and transport (18), food products (17), finished goods (16), pharmaceuticals and chemicals (13) and semi-manufactured goods (12).
Swedish exports to Denmark in 2013 consisted of machines and transport (40 percent), processed materials (15), finished goods (13), food products (10), chemicals (9), minerals, fuel and electricity (9) and raw materials (4).
Source: Børsen & Business Sweden