The key condition for people’s freedom and creativity, for welfare, prosperity and development is the market economy. The market economy is the system in which lasting progress can only be achieved by creating value for others. It turns basic human characteristics, such as curiosity, responsibility, ingenuity, and thrift with limited resources, into driving forces for the benefit of all.
All countries – including Sweden – that have succeeded in creating societies that are free and democratic, that enjoy material prosperity, and that enjoy high living standards, are market economies. But for market economies to create all the good they are capable of creating, they need to be nurtured and supported by systems and decisions that politicians and citizens jointly influence.
With knowledge, technology, and commitment, Sweden and Swedish companies can lead efforts to meet global climate goals and to achieve the transition to a sustainable world.
The tax system must be structured in such a way so that it is always more attractive to be in work than not in work and that people are always rewarded for working more. All Swedish workers, irrespective of whether they work in the private or public sector, are dependent on Sweden being an attractive place to start and run a business. Few countries are as dependent on being able to export and compete on global markets as Sweden. Rules and agreements relating to the labour market should therefore not be complicated and nor should companies’ costs be prohibitively high to prevent Swedish companies and jobs from competing with other countries. People setting up new companies, as entrepreneurs, investors, or employees, expose themselves to risk. Reasonable rules and taxes on capital, entrepreneurship, and co-ownership make these risks worth taking. This is the essence of a favourable business climate.
Rules on the labour market must be designed to make it easy to get a job and to employ people. The most important long-term precondition to finding work and making it attractive to employ people is an education system that provides a good grounding for life-long learning and knowledge that business needs. As a small country with knowledge-leading companies, Sweden is also dependent on being able to attract knowledge and recruit workers from other countries.
A society’s infrastructure is everything that makes economic activity possible. Roads and transport systems make it possible to transport goods and people quickly and efficiently. Digital infrastructure makes it possible to access knowledge and information. Access to electricity and raw materials make it possible to develop and produce goods and services.
Infrastructure also includes the financial system, laws, and rules that, correctly structured, makes it possible to run companies and create prosperity.
The public sector must be robust and efficient in performing its core tasks, such as protecting our borders, crime prevention, and upholding the law. The public sector must also be effective in those areas where it has overall responsibility and where the private sector provides services and solutions, such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
But the public sector should not allow its most important roles to be displaced by tasks the private sector does better. If this does happen, not only does the public sector become large and inefficient, but due to high taxes and bureaucracy it also risks suffocating entrepreneurship and thereby its own funding.
Swedish companies being able to import, export, and invest across borders are preconditions for growth and jobs in Sweden. Exports account for almost half of Swedish GDP and 1.3 million jobs in Sweden. Free trade has driven the success of Swedish companies in the world and has made Sweden prosperous. At the same time, Swedish innovations contribute to competitive and sustainable goods and services globally.
For many companies, the EU and the single market is a “home market” where people, goods, services, and capital move freely. Sweden should be a strong voice for smooth-functioning trade within the EU, free from unnecessary barriers. Sweden needs to fill the void left by the UK’s departure from the EU and robustly argue for an efficient and trade-friendly environment throughout the bloc.
Globally, the number of barriers to trade is increasing. With protectionism on the rise, predictable and transparent rules are needed. Access to new markets, ambitious free trade agreements, and common rules through a strengthened WTO are basic requirements for open world trade.
Sweden should be a strong voice for free trade. Our EU membership makes Sweden’s voice stronger, while also enabling us to help build a better Europe.