As Mr Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s Minister of Enterprise & Innovation, and Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry held their insightful opening speeches the very first Sweden-Southeast Asia Business Summit opened on 21 September 2016 in Singapore.
Held at Parkroyal by Pickering hotel in the downtown CBD area the summit was clearly off to a good start, with strong attendance from the region as well as Sweden and with all speakers pointing to the great opportunity for this summit to contribute to boosted trade and to learn insights from each other.
Mr Håkan Jevrell, Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore; Mrs Ylva Berg, CEO, Business Sweden – the Swedish Trade and Invest Council; and Mr Jan Djerf, President, Swedish Business Association of Singapore all gave their opening remarks in this spirit, pointing SEA as a huge, potential growth market for Swedish businesses.
Around 600 Swedish companies across business sectors ranging from service to manufacturing and retail are already present in Southeast Asia and inventing tomorrow’s world.
“The opportunities for trade between Sweden and Southeast Asia are immense. With a rapidly growing middle class and a population of 650 million people, the growth of the region is one of the highest in the world. Southeast Asia has the third largest labour force, and it’s the fourth largest exporter in the world. The countries in the region plan to make significant investments in infrastructure in the near future opening up interesting business opportunities,” said Mr. Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation.
The minister pointed to Swedish Innovations with some examples: Millions of hearts around the world beat with the help of a pacemaker. Candles are lit with the help of safety matches. Innumerable lives have been saved with the help of the three-point seatbelt. These are just a few examples of Swedish innovations that have made a difference. Communicating with Skype, listening to Spotify and playing Minecraft are other examples.
The Innovation Union Scoreboard 2016, an index published by the European Commission, ranks Sweden as the leading country for innovation among EU member states. The reasons for this include a historic tradition of inventors, a social environment that encourages creativity, a commitment to gender equality and a strong belief in the individual. Close collaboration between research institutes and the private and public sectors is another key factor, setting the foundation for Swedish global companies like Ericsson, Scania and Volvo.
“The purpose of the Sweden – Southeast Asia Business Summit is to provide a platform for Swedish businesses to get insights into the potential that the markets of Southeast Asia have to offer and to identify synergies between companies and across markets”, continued the innovation minister.
“Here at the summit I think we might share a common passion and that is for Swedish companies to expand in SEA and Singaporean companies to invest more in Sweden. At Business Sweden we do whatever it takes to open up global markets for Swedish businesses,” said Ylva Berg.
“We have come together for common ground, and sharing best practices,” said Jan Djerf, pointing out that in Singapore alone there are now more than 250 Swedish companies established. “The Sweden-SEA summit is and excellent platform to gain knowledge.”
He also pointed out that it is important to bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all in terms of expanding into Southeast Asia, while Singapore stands out, renowned for its infrastructure and easy of doing business.