During the first week of March 2015 Sweden’s Ambassadors to Southeast Asia went on a road show together with Business Sweden to make their cause for increased Swedish trade and investment with the ASEAN region, each ambassador also representing their particular country as a business destination.
Their road show visited Lund/Malmö in southern Sweden, Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast and finally the capital, Stockholm.
“Plenty of interest from Swedish companies to do business in Cambodia and in ASEAN,” reported the Ambassador in Cambodia, Anna Maj Hultgård on social media!
The kick-off for road show took place at Ideon Science Park in Lund to talk about investment opportunities in Asia. Ideon is Scandinavia’s and one of Europe’s most successful meeting places for visionaries, entrepreneurs and for venture capital.
The aim with the road show was to attract more Swedish companies to invest in “the world’s most dynamic region.”
In an open letter in the daily newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, the ambassadors jointly also wrote: “The basis of our Swedish society builds upon Swedish export. Sweden has for a very long time been a successful exporting country and the ambition of the political decision-makers remains high. However, we live in a changing world where the wheels roll faster. For Sweden to be able to maintain its position, it requires that we speed up and are ready to meet new needs on the market.”
And highlighted Southeast Asia as the market for the future: “With almost 660 million inhabitants and an expected growth of around five percent every year, the region is looking into a very exciting future. Despite this, Swedish export to Southeast Asia only counts for around two percent. This trend has to stop.”
“We need more companies who dare to make investments in this region. It is not enough that most of our major established global companies are investing. We also need to attract small and medium-sized companies to take the leap over to Southeast Asia. The potential is huge but of course it is not without challenges. To be successful in this region, it requires perseverance and patience. A company that believes it is possible to recoup an investment in one year are often too optimistic,” the ambassadors adviced
“On the other hand, companies who have patience and ability to build up relations will be able to succeed. In many countries there are challenges with corruption, and that weakens the CSR transcendently, but exactly therefore it is important that Sweden shows business presence. Many of the large multinational Swedish companies have successfully been established in Southeast Asia for decades and it has also improved the business environment, transparency and working conditions. Through Swedish entrepreneurship, we can contribute to a positive development.”
In the end of 2015, the ASEAN inner market AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) will be in force, creating improved conditions for ASEAN countries to generate growth.
“In Southeast Asia, there is significant capital with a very well-functioning financial market in Singapore. The big economies of Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia have a growing middle class and all the ASEAN countries are making huge investments in infrastructure. Where is the Swedish construction industry?”
ASEAN countries have a combined GDP that is 25 percent larger than that of India, has more than 600 million consumers and is the world’s fourth largest exporter. Asia is not just China and India, but so much more.
“Let us together meet the challenge of increasing Swedish export. We will together with Business Sweden, Swedish Export Credit Corporation and the Export Credits Guarantee Board do our best to welcome and support the brave Swedish companies. We are wanted in Southeast Asia, let us not miss the chance!”
Sweden’s current ambassadors are as follows: Johanna Brismar Skoog, Indonesia; Bengt G. Carlsson, Malaysia; Anna Maj Hultgård, Cambodia; Håkan Jevrell, Singapore; Klas Molin, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and the Philippines; Camilla Mellander, Vietnam.