Sweden’s trade with Burma has gone down considerably first half 2004 compared with the same period last year.
Imports from Burma dropped 38.5 percent to SEK 14.2 million while exports decreased 42.9 percent to SEK 2.2 million during the period, according to official numbers from Statistics Sweden.
Wood and products made of wood, most of it teak, represent half of Sweden’s import from Burma. The rest is mainly textiles and seafood.
Most of the exports are machinery and spare parts.
Despite strong criticism by Sweden’s government against human rights conditions in Burma did trade between the military junta ruled nation and Sweden increase by over 50 percent between 2000 to 2003.
If the latest numbers represent a real shift downwards or simply reflect a change from direct imports to use of a third country as nation of origin remains to be seen.
Sweden sticks to EU’s trade recommendations and the European Union has not introduced any far reaching trade sanctions against Burma, only some travel restrictions for Burmese government officials.
According to Thai business daily Poochatgarn has a 35 people strong trade delegation from Burma’s forest industries just concluded a sales and marketing trip to Europe in order to boost direct trade with countries there.
The newspaper quotes a Burmese official saying that Italy, Switzerland, France, Sweden and Germany are the main direct buyers of Burmese teak in Europe, purchasing less than 10,000 tons of teak per year.