A New Chapter to Boost Region’s Trade with Sweden

THE region’s economy received a boost with the opening of a dedicated North East Chapter of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce.

Designed to forge direct business links between the north east and the growing economy of Sweden, the Chapter will facilitate inward and outward investment and fuel the region’s position as one of only two net exporters in the UK.

The Swedish Ambassador, H.E. Nicola Clase, made her first visit outside of London to officially open the Chapter as part of one day trade seminar on doing business in the north east and Sweden.

To kick start the launch of the chapter, H.E. Nicola Clase joined Caroline Theobald, Swedish Consul in Newcastle and chairman of the new chapter, on a visit to Durham based Esh Group’s much acclaimed ‘zero energy bill’ Climat-Hus

Created as part of a joint venture with Swedish firm Trivselhus, the Climat- Hus, is a tangible example of a hugely successful north east/ Swedish joint venture. 

The Swedish Ambassador, H.E. Nicola Clase, said:  “The Climat-Hus is a fine example of fruitful business cooperation between the UK and Sweden.  Energy efficiency is very much in line with the priorities of the Swedish Government as it provides a key contribution to solving the global climate issue.  Esh Group and Trivselhus is a beacon for those already involved in the new Chapter and those we wish to attract going forward.”

 Currently 30 Swedish companies operate across the north east, but according to the Swedish Chamber of Commerce there is strong interest from both regions in developing business partnerships.

Annika Wahlberg, managing director of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce said: “We did a trade mission in June to Gothenburg and realised how much interest there was from north east companies and One NorthEast supported the idea of setting up a chamber as it was keen to attract Swedish companies. 

 “There’s obviously a geographical connection between the two areas, but we also share similar growth sectors and complement each other, with a strong interest in renewables, cleantech, ICT, health care, bio technologies and life sciences.”

Annual imports from the north east in to Sweden last year amounted to £141 million, which represents just 3% of the total UK imports.

 According to Caroline Theobald, who has spearheaded efforts to launch the north east chapter, this small percentage represents a real opportunity for the region. She said: “The sectors they are interested in mirror ours and Sweden’s economy is getting stronger having come out of recession really well. 

 “The establishment of the chamber gives me a strong mandate to continue the conversations we’re already having. There is a real opportunity here to share expertise and promote knowledge transfer between the two countries.”

 Theobald is liaising with the North East Chamber of Commerce, which also acknowledges the potential of the Swedish market.  Ross Smith, head of policy at NECC said: “Sweden is not a country we’ve had a big focus on in the past, so it’s one where lots of opportunities exist.   The recovery of the region’s economy is very much centred on international trade and exporting, therefore identifying unexplored foreign markets is essential.”

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