International Trade Policy
Free trade can be a forceful engine for growth. This is why Sweden is traditionally pursuing open, simple and fair conditions for international trade and investment. Trade with the world around us has built our prosperity. It can contribute to growth, to employment and to sustainable development.
Globalization is both providing new economic opportunities and increasing competitive pressure. This process could change the context for world trade. In the current period of economic crisis, there are an increasing number of policy challenges for governments to keep trade flowing. Sweden firmly believes that the free flow of trade is essential to ensure a return to sustainable economic growth and rising standards of living for all, particularly for developing countries.
Protectionism must be resisted. We all have responsibility for rebuilding trust and confidence in international trade. The monitoring work in the WTO on trade measures is part of this effort.
The European Union (EU) is an important actor in international trade and in the development of international trade policy. EU trade policy consists both of the rules for trade within the EU – the internal market – and joint action taken by the EU in creating global and regional rules for imports and exports, for example in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Sweden's role in the WTO and the WTO's role for Sweden
In practical terms, Sweden is represented by the EU in the WTO. Because of the EU Customs Union and the Single Market, trade policy is common to all EU member states. EU speaks with one voice, and negotiates as one party, in the WTO. The EU is also the world's largest trading block, which gives the EU and its member states (such as Sweden) significant influence in the WTO. Sweden influences continuously EU’s positions and politics in the WTO through internal consultations in Brussels (particularly in the Trade Policy Committee) and in Geneva. We try to ensure that EU's actions to the largest extent possible coincide with Swedish interests.
The WTO plays a central role in Sweden’s, as well as the EU’s, trade and investment. Through its extensive regulatory framework, transparency requirements, and system for monitoring countries' trade policies, the WTO watches over global rules for global trade. This ensures predictability and some level of comfort for Swedish companies dealing with companies in other countries. The WTO also allows countries, through the so-called dispute settlement mechanism, to resolve their trade problems before they escalate into trade wars or political conflicts. The mechanism works as a court: it determines whether countries' actions are consistent with their WTO obligations, and - if they are not - may require countries to take rectifying action.