Exports to China from the Stockholm region have, for the first time, surpassed exports to the United States, according to a new report published on Friday by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
The study, based on figures from Statistics Sweden, shows that companies based in the Swedish capital are trading more and more with China while U.S. export rates are going down.
Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, chief economist at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, attributed the historical shift to China's strong growth and explained that China is now Stockholm's most important export market and could soon be the whole country's primary export market outside of Europe.
"Paradoxically, (U.S. President) Donald Trump's tariffs can lead to the United States weakening even more as these tariffs will make China more interesting," said Hatzigeorgiou, "While it is a good thing that Stockholm is trading with China, we would also benefit from deepening trans-Atlantic relations. Therefore, Trump should cancel his tariffs and Sweden should push for the EU to continue talks about a free-trade agreement with the United States."
In 2007, the total value of Stockholm's exports to China was around 4 billion SEK (0.48 billion U.S. dollars) while the value of U.S. exports was 26 billion SEK. A decade later, those figures are around 16 billion SEK and 15 billion SEK respectively.
In a press release, Hatzigeorgiou referred to the shift as "exceptional" and said it could be an indication for the future since Stockholm is usually a trendsetter when it comes to trade patterns.
If President Trump's tariffs lead to an escalating trade war, Hatzigeorgiou said, China might surpass the United States as Sweden's most important export market outside of Europe.
"Trump has exempted Swedish and European companies from his tariffs. That means our competitive status in the United States can marginally improve," he said.
"Moreover, it means that China's counter-measures against the United States will hit at U.S. companies, which in turn can benefit Swedish companies' efforts to secure contracts in China. The world needs more free trade but if the global superpowers want to introduce tariffs, then Sweden must use the situation to its advantage," said Hatzigeorgiou.