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Sweden

Sweden

Population 9.8 million
GDP per capita 50049 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2014 2015  2016 (e) 2017(f)
GDP growth (%) 2.6 4.1 3.3 2.6
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 0.2 0.7 1.1 1.5
Budget balance (% GDP) -1.0 0.1 -0.1 -0.2
Current account balance (% GDP) 4.8 5.3 5.0 5.1
Public debt (% GDP) 44.7 43.4 42.6 41.2

 

(f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Open, diversified and competitive economy
  • Specialisation in high-tech products and the green economy
  • Sound public finances
  • Increasingly dynamic demographics

WEAKNESSES

  • Tensions on the real estate market
  • Substantial household debt
  • Highly concentrated banking sector

RISK ASSESSMENT

Strong growth supported by domestic demand

In 2017, activity is expected to slightly slow, due to less dynamic demand than in 2016. Private consumption will be affected by slower wage growth and the decline in unemployment (6.4% in November 2016). However, this will remain high due to the continuation of the Riskbank's (Central Bank) accommodative monetary policy as well as a significant immigration. The country has welcomed a large number of migrants (about 300,000) since 2015, although migration policy will be more restrictive in 2017. However, integrating these migrants in the labour market is likely to take some time, which will limit the decline in unemployment, especially among non-European and low-skilled workers. Moreover, the rise in property prices should be more moderate than before, because of the Government's desire to reduce household debt levels (175% of gross disposable income) by introducing new rules to limit mortgage loans.

Overall investment is expected to continue to grow in 2017, although more moderately than in 2016 (6.6%). Residential investment will be slightly less dynamic (while remaining firm), due to a shortage of labour, which will hamper the construction sector, while the automotive and pharmaceutical sectors will fare better.

Meanwhile, the contribution of foreign trade to growth is projected to remain neutral in 2017.

Despite a further depreciation of the krona in 2016, which pushed up the price of imported goods, the Central Bank is worried about the weakness of inflation. As a result, the Riskbank may ease its monetary policy still further (deposit interest rate in November of -0.5%), in order to bring inflation gradually back close to its target (2%).   

 

Large current account surpluses and a balanced budget

Fiscal policy will remain relatively neutral due to the favourable economic climate, which is expected to keep the budget in balance in 2017 and slightly reduce the public debt. Nevertheless, the 2017 budget contains a number of measures aimed at supporting domestic demand. The drop in the number of migrants entering the country in 2017 will help to target spending better on facilitating their integration, without, however, impacting on the public finances.

This budget also provides for higher spending on education, improving access to the internet in rural areas as well promoting research and innovation. This moderate increase in government spending (of the order of USD 3 billion) will be offset by higher tax receipts, particularly from corporation tax and higher taxes on alcohol and fuel. In addition, the Government's aim of dispensing totally with fossil fuels by 2030 is being delivered through incentives to recycle and invest in renewable energy. It is worth noting that the share of the latter in the supply of energy is among the highest in the OECD.

The current account surplus is also set to remain stable in 2017, at a very comfortable level. Imports will still be firm, buoyed by growing domestic demand, but will, nonetheless, be offset by stronger exports, due to the moderate growth in demand from the country's main trading partners. However, a slowdown in demand from the United Kingdom (3rd largest trading partner), after Brexit, could affect the trade balance through a decline in exports.   

The Swedish banking sector is well capitalised but highly concentrated: the country's four major banks hold about 75% of assets, which represents 255% of GDP. The banking system will therefore present a high risk as household debt is high and property prices are still rising (danger of the bubble bursting).

 

A coalition government weakened by the rise of the far-right party

Despite a favourable economic climate, the centre-left coalition is increasingly discredited. The Sweden Anti-Immigration Party has climbed in the polls by criticizing the current government's immigration policy. They also want a referendum, similar to that of the United Kingdom, on getting Sweden out of the European Union. However, this party remains fairly isolated in the political landscape and a poll in October 2016 suggests that Swedes are opposed to a withdrawal from the EU. The coalition government could, therefore, stay in place until the next parliamentary elections due to be held in September 2018.

The business climate ill remain very favourable in this country, which is ranked 9th in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index.

 

 

Last update : January 2017

Payment

Bills of exchange and promissory notes are neither widely used nor recommended as they must meet a number of formal requirements in order to be considered as legally valid.

 

Just as the rules for issuing cheques have become more flexible, the sanctions for issuers of uncovered cheques have been relaxed over the years. The use of cheques has subsequently become almost non-existent.

 

Conversely, use of the SWIFT electronic network by Swedish banks provides a secure, efficient, and fairly cheap domestic and international fund-transfer service. Payments are dependent on the buyer’s good faith. Sellers are advised to take great care to ensure that their bank account details are correct if they wish to receive timely payment.

 

Direct debits represent about ten percent of non-cash payments in Sweden and are quickly growing in popularity. There are two types of direct debit in Sweden: Autogiro Foretag (AGF) for B2B transactions and Autogiro Privat (AGP) for B2C payments. They can both be used for single or recurring payments.

 

Debt collection

Amicable phase

Amicable settlement aims to recover the debt without transferring the case into a trial procedure. The debtor is informed (either orally or via writing, with written correspondence being preferred) about the debt, the payment deadline and the consequences of not paying the debt. If debtor agrees to pay the debt, both parties may settle on instalment payments through an official document that sets out the contractual terms of the agreement.

 

Where there is no specific interest clause in the contract, the rate of interest applicable since 2002 is the six-monthly benchmark rate (referensräntan) of the Central Bank of Sweden (SverigesRiksbank), plus eight percentage points. Under the Swedish Interest Act (räntelag, 1975, last amended in 2013), interest on damages is awarded from the 30th day following the day on which the creditor addressed a written claim for damages to the defendant, if the plaintiff so requests. In any event, interest may be awarded from the date of service of the summons application.

 

Legal proceedings

Fast-track proceedings

Where claims meet some basic requirements (e.g. payment is overdue, mediation was attempted),  creditors can obtain an injunction to pay (Betalningsföreläggande) via summary proceedings through the Enforcement Service. The application has to be made in writing and clearly express the grounds of the claim. No further proof needs to be submitted.

 

This Enforcement Authority (Kronofogdemyndigheten) orders the debtor to respond within a period ten days to two weeks. If the debtor fails to reply in time or acknowledge the debt, a verdict will be rendered on the merits of the original application.

 

While formal, this system offers a relatively straightforward and quick remedy in respect of undisputed claims, which has greatly freed up the courts. Creditors are not required to hire a lawyer but, in some circumstances, would be well advised to do so. On average, the process takes two months from application to decision. The decision is immediately enforceable. 

 

Court proceedings

If the debtor contests the debt, the creditor has the decision of either turning to the District Court (the first instance,Tingsrätten) or to terminate the process.

 

Proceedings involve a preliminary hearing in which the judge attempts to help the parties reach a settlement after examining their case documents, evidence and arguments. It is up to the parties themselves to decide what evidence they wish to submit.

 

If the dispute remains unresolved, the proceedings continue with written submissions and oral arguments until the main hearing, where the emphasis is on counsels' pleadings (defence and prosecution) and examination of witnesses' testimonies.

 

In accordance with the principle of immediateness, the court bases its decision exclusively on the evidence presented at the trial. Barring exceptional circumstances, the judgement is customarily issued within two weeks thereafter.

 

As a general rule, the code of civil procedure requires the losing party to bear all legal costs considered reasonable, as well as the attorney fees incurred by the winning party beyond a given threshold claim amount (about SEK 22,250, approximately EUR 2,585).

 

It takes up to twelve months (in exceptional cases more) to obtain a writ of execution in first instance, bearing in mind that there is a widespread tendency inSwedento appeal against judgements. However, the Government’s target for 2013 is for 75% of the civil cases at district court level to be determined within seven months.

 

Enforcement of a court decision

As soon as a domestic judgment becomes final, it is enforceable. If the debtor does not comply, comply, the creditor can request the court’s enforcement authority to seize and sell the debtor’s assets.

 

For awards rendered in a European Union member-state, special enforcement conditions are provided. When the claim is undisputed, the creditor may apply to the European Enforcement Order, or when the claim does not exceed EUR 2,000 EUR, the creditor may start a European Small Claim Procedure. For awards issued in non EU countries, theSvea HovrätCourt of Appeal must recognize an award in order to enforce it, provided that a recognition and enforcement agreement has been signed between the non-EU country and Sweden.

 

Insolvency proceedings

Out-of court

Swedish law does not formally regulate out-of court arrangements. Nevertheless, creditors and debtors can enter into voluntary negotiations in order to negotiate the debt and reach an agreement.

 

Restructuring

The aim of restructuring is to find a financial solution for an insolvent company that is deemed to have sustainable long-term business prospects. It can apply for a restructuring with the local court. If approved, the court will appoint arekonstruktörto manage the restructuring. The latter will investigate the financial situation of the company, before establishing and implementing a restructuring plan under which up to 75% of the debt may be written off.

 

Bankruptcy

Proceedings are initiated as a consequence of a company becoming permanently insolvent. They aim to wind down an insolvent company by selling its assets and distributing any income to creditors. Either the debtor or the creditor can file a petition before the local court. After the court has declared a company bankrupt, it appoints an administrator that independently takes control over the company’s assets with the main task of realising such assets and repaying the debts of the bankruptcy estate in accordance with the creditors’ statutory ranking.

Insolvency trend Sweden
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