Recently, The Moscow Times met with Ewa Bjorling, Sweden’s minister for trade. During the interview, Bjorling discussed many issues pertinent to relations between Sweden and Russia, focusing on customs, corruption and commerce.
She explained that Russia is very important to Sweden as a commercial partner. The two countries, Bjorling said, have common bonds in relation to their histories, their climates, and more.
When asked about what was achieved at the Swedish-Russian Steering Committee, Bjorling explained that, “ We had one concrete thing, and that was that we signed a memorandum of understanding on energy — how we can cooperate much more when it comes to energy consumption and energy efficiency and how to move more toward a green economy. To facilitate more trade between Sweden and Russia, we still need to remove existing trade barriers.”
Tourism and Beyond
They discussed Swedish tourists shopping in St. Petersburg, auto industry investments in Russia and IKEA. When discussing the issues of IKEA stopping their expansion into Russia because of corruption, she explained that “Russia has a huge potential” and that Sweden is, at the moment, the 8th largest investor there.
At the conclusion of the interview, when asked about opportunities and challenges for developing trade in Russia, Bjorling said, “We have more than 400 Swedish companies active in Russia today, and there are a lot of opportunities in Russia, since Russia’s economy is growing rather fast. Russia is also undertaking a modernization agenda that, I hope, will facilitate more trade. More Swedes will really be able to see the benefits of Russia … that we are close neighbors. It’s a more open market, but still there are challenges.”