Paris and Washington have agreed to extend negotiations over a French digital tax to the end of 2020, thereby postponing US President Donald Trump’s threat to introduce tariffs on French luxury items.
In July 2019, Paris approved a digital services tax, which would be levied on sales generated in France by firms like Google and Facebook.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has been critical of the tax, preferring to see a model whereby a tax is levied on the companies in the countries where production and product development takes place.
Meanwhile, European industrial policy chief Thierry Breton said on Monday the European Union would take action, if discussions at OECD level on taxation for digital companies failed. Ms Andersson has said that she would prefer the talks to be held within the OECD and she is uncertain as to whether she can back such an initiative. “It will depend entirely on its design,” she remarked.
Danish lawmakers are to consider “all options” to ensure the survival of the Danish-Swedish owned PostNord postal service. Alternatives include splitting the Danish and Swedish service and privatisation.
In Sweden, lawmakers are calling for ministers Anders Ygeman and Ibrahim Baylan to appear before a standing committee and clarify the situation, following the reports of recent days that PostNord could face billion kronor losses.
EU finance ministers are meeting in Brussels today to discuss digital taxation and the European Green Deal.
On Friday last, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson commented on the EU’s Just Transition Fund, saying it is likely to add an additional EUR 7.5 billion to the EU’s 2021-2027 budget, reports SvD.
The paper also reports that Sweden opposes proposals to move corporate tax bases, from companies’ home countries to the consumer country, but is positive to a proposal to introduce a global, minimum level of corporate tax.
Trump’s China deal could hit Sweden
China’s promise of drastically higher imports from the US, in a so-called phase 1 agreement, could hit Swedish export companies, warns Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg (S). At the same time, she has welcomed the agreement, which is a signal of easing tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
“It is very important in order for world trade to function well,” says Anna Hallberg to TT.
The phase 1 agreement means, in short, that the Trump government keeps many of the tariffs, which have been introduced on Chinese goods during the two-year trade war, in place. However, the US is abstaining from introducing new tariffs and is halving some of the existing ones.
The minister is also critical that the agreement contains a bilateral conflict-resolution mechanism without reference to the WTO system.
Sweden’s economy will grow at a slower pace in 2020 than previously forecast, as the global slowdown is increasingly felt in Sweden, said the government on Thursday.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson forecast growth of 1.1% this year, down from a September forecast of 1.8%. In 2021, growth is expected to be 1.6%, against an earlier forecast of 1.8%.
Unemployment is forecast to reach 7.0% this year and next, up from a forecast of 6.4%.
Ms Andersson said Sweden was well-equipped to address the slowdown; national debt is at its lowest level since 1977.
The minister also presented an analysis of the Swedish municipal sector, saying it was becoming more important to focus on municipal and regional finances and welfare.
Lawmakers on Wednesday debated a proposal by the Sweden Democrats (SD) to give state-owned Vattenfall a new directive, one which would prevent the further decommissioning of the Ringhals 1 and 2 nuclear reactors. Ringhals 2 has already been shut down.
A vote will be held on Wednesday next week, although the outcome is uncertain since there is a deadlock in Parliament.
“If you want to restart a closed reactor but are not prepared to pay what it takes to meet … modern security requirements, then it will be nothing more than symbolic policy,” Energy Minister Anders Ygeman told TT.
In response, Moderate spokesman Lars Hjälmared accused the Social Democrats of failing to listen to reason and the Green Party of forcing its coalition partner’s hand.
The European Commission has taken the first step towards a common framework for setting minimum wages in EU member states, which is causing concern among Swedish politicians, who argue that Brussel’s intervention could ultimately lead to lower wages among the workforce.
Although Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last summer that the Swedish model of collective bargaining would be safeguarded, critics are set to challenge the EU proposal.
Moderate MEP Tomas Tobé, who fears the Commission will eventually issue a directive on statutory minimum wages, instead of a non-binding resolution, intends to try and gain a majority in the European Parliament to block the move, saying it would be “difficult” to try and determine “what is the right salary level in Bulgaria, Sweden and Denmark.
While understanding that the Commission believes minimum wages must be raised, Social Democrat MEP Johan Danielsson points out that statistics show Sweden, and other countries with collective bargaining, have the highest minimum wages.
The Commission will launch its consultation this week.
In an age in which 5G is just around the corner, Sweden has still not set a date for an auction of the most important frequencies, states Christian Luiga, CEO of Telia Company.
Listing China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea and the United States as examples of countries where auctions have already been held, the CEO suggests that the unilateral focus on excluding foreign powers from 5G has delayed 5G expansion in Sweden and harmed competition.
5G security concerns are larger than individual auctions intended for a new technology and should be dealt with accordingly, i.e. with general legislation and rules, which apply to all operators, regardless of the frequencies and technologies used.
Telia is geared up to lay the groundwork for the next stage in the digitalisation of Sweden but requires a political 5G roadmap, one which includes a final date for the auction of frequencies, he declares.
Operator Telia has launched 5G in Lillestrøm, a municipality north-east of Norway’s capital, Oslo.
The network is expected to be taken into commercial operation later this year
The government has expressed a desire to promote Sweden’s mining industry, but critics say the Government Offices are failing to act, which has resulted in a drop in the number of applications for mining permits in recent years.
Centre Party MP Lena Modig, who has raised the matter with Enterprise Minister Ibrahim Baylan, says “it is obvious” that the government has no intention of taking any action and this is causing investors to shy away from mining projects in Sweden.
Five years ago, Sweden was among the most attractive mining nations, but it has since fallen to 21st place in the ranking.
We are a small, but qualified team of graduates in politics, economics, English and classics dedicated to providing quality news digests in English that offer readers a first-hand look at the most important topics covered by the Swedish press. Here you will find a selection of the articles that are published in our Swedish Press Review.