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Economy in Brief

Sweden's Strong Exports Limit Harm from Energy Price Surge
by Carol Stone November 24, 2006

Sweden's trade balance widened in October from a year ago to SKr10.6 billion from SKr10.2 billion. Exports expanded SKr11.4 billion, or 13.0%, while imports gained SKr11.0 billion, a 14.2% increase.

Statistics Sweden reported these totals for October this morning, and they published the details by type of product through September. The largest Swedish export category is machinery and transport equipment; these were SKr42.6 billion in September, constituting 45.2% of total exports. These products include cars, construction machinery and office equipment, among others. "Other manufactured goods" exports totaled SKr19.1 billion in September and were 20.3% of the total. Both of these large segments have diminished somewhat in importance over the last couple of years, as mineral fuel shipments have expanded. For growth comparisons, we use the average of 2004, the period just prior to the recent explosion in energy prices. A mere SKr4.6 billion in September, Sweden's refined petroleum product shipments were, nonetheless, almost 47% larger than in 2004, compared with 23% increases over that period for the other manufactured goods and capital goods.

On the import side, machinery purchases were SKr31.2 billion in September, up 25% from the 2004 average. Other manufactured goods were SKr13.1 billion, compared with SKr9.3 billion in 2004. Mineral fuel imports increased a great deal more, some 70% on a base of SKr6.0 billion, bringing them to SKr10.2 billion.

Sweden's strength in manufacturing, particularly of capital goods, has enabled it to weather the energy price surge fairly well. The base for this performance was actually set in the early 1990s when its exports grew rapidly, lifting its trade accounts to a substantial surplus following years of little or no positive balance, a critical position for this very open economy. Exports have been vigorous again since 2003.

Monthly Averages
SWEDEN, NSA, Bil.Kr Selected Item Oct 2006 Sept 2006 Aug 2006 Oct 2005
2005 2004 2003
Trade Balance +10.6 +11.4 +8.2 +10.2 +11.7 +13.8 +12.2
Exports 99.0 94.3 83.1 87.6 81.0 75.4 68.8
  Mineral Fuels -- 4.6 5.9 5.4 4.4 3.1 2.4
Machinery & Transport Equip -- 42.6 35.0 39.6 36.4 34.6 31.3
Imports 88.4 82.9 74.9 77.4 69.3 61.6 56.6
  Mineral Fuels -- 10.2 10.1 10.6 8.1 6.0 5.4
 Machinery & Transport Equip -- 31.2 26.3 25.1 27.3 24.9 22.9
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