Strong focus on different market niches
In the face of intense international competition, Sweden’s steel industry has rationalised its operations, year after year. The companies at present are focused on the production of special steels and these products are aimed at customers within various market niches.
Sweden’s share of sales to the global steel market amounts to only about three per mille (2014). However, when one looks at sales to the different market segments – on which Sweden’s steel industry concentrates – then the picture appears rather different. Within selected segments, Swedish steel companies have significant market shares; in many niche areas they adopt a world leading position.
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Major part of production exported
The major part of the products which Swedish steel companies produce – plate, strip, wire, bar and rods, profiles and tube – goes for export to around 140 recipient countries (2014). For the steel industry, therefore, the trade policy climate has great significance and the importance of free trade cannot be overestimated.
The largest market for Swedish steel is to be found within the EU, with Germany being the largest recipient country. The USA is also an important market and, in recent years, sales to China have increased markedly.
Since the Swedish steel industry concentrates on producing special steel grades and products, many standard steel grades must be imported. Indeed, imported steel comprises a large share of all the steel used in Sweden. The fact that Sweden exports highly finished steel and imports standard products means that a significant trade surplus on steel is generated each year.
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Efficient transportation – a necessity for the Swedish steel industry
To enable Swedish steel companies to compete on the world market – despite Sweden’s geographical position – the availability of a properly functioning infrastructure in combination with an efficient and competitive transport sector are necessary.
On the one hand, there is a need for the transport of products to the export markets. On the other hand, large quantities of input goods, required for the production of steel, must be transported to the steel plants.
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Free and fair international trade
For the steel industry, a favourable trade policy climate, with free and fair trade, is of great importance. The EU’s trade policy is common for all member states since the EU is a customs union. Trade matters in the EU are managed by the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament. Issues are also raised and interests promoted by the steel industry’s European interest associations. These include Eurofer (European Steel Association) and ESTA (European Steel Tube Association) in which Jernkontoret represents Sweden’s steel industry.