From the April 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

Suzanne Southard started Texas Trading in Dallas last fall, exporting clothing, accessories, sports equipment and snack foods to finicky Swedish buyers. In just a few months, her homebased company had racked up sales of $30,000. If you're thinking of following in 36-year-old Southard's footsteps and exporting to Sweden, keep the following information in mind:

Sweden is an advanced, industrialized country whose imports and exports, in recent years, have comprised two-thirds of its gross domestic product. The third-largest country in Europe, it's generally thought of as a low-turmoil, superior export market. What's more, Swedes enjoy a high standard of living and can afford to purchase high-end, high-quality products.

Among the benefits of exporting to Sweden: The country has comparatively reasonable tariff rates and the second-lowest corporate tax rate in Europe. It's an open market and a member of the European Union; as such, it provides access to 370 million consumers. Some business owners use Sweden as a gateway to emerging Baltic markets. However, a value-added tax is added to the cost of your product when it reaches the consumer; keep this in mind when pricing your product.

Swedish export experts say hot markets for entrepreneurs include computers and software, sporting goods (especially ski, hockey, ice skating, golf and equestrian equipment), medical equipment, automotive parts and services, and food items (especially snack foods).

Swedish tastes in packaging tend to run along minimalist lines. Swedes are very environmentally conscious, so be conservation-minded when designing packaging, and don't use too much plastic. "The simpler the packaging, the better," says Richard Koehler, president of Houston-based IKR Corp., an international marketing consultancy. Not only will Swedish consumers appreciate your minimal packaging, but it will help lower shipping costs, too.

Special Report

Want to know what Malaysia's major imports and exports are? Need some insights into Venezuela's economic outlook? Seattle-based International Financial Data Ltd.'s (IFD) country reports are required reading for entrepreneurial exporters.

The two- to three-page country-specific reports contain up-to-date currency information; gross domestic product growth rates; tidbits on population, language, political climate and religion; the country's major exports and imports; plus other pertinent information. IFD can also prepare an in-depth industry-specific report for your business.

In addition to country reports, IFD offers industry, market and foreign company analysis, and can help in choosing target markets and developing global strategies. For more information, call (206) 224-2888.

For More Information

Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, New York City, (212) 838-5530, fax: (212) 755-7953, (http://www.sacc-usa.org)

Invest in Sweden Agency, New York City, (212) 702-8780, fax: (212) 702-8783, (http://www.isa.se)

Swedish Trade Council, 011-46-8-783-85-00, fax: 011-46-8-662-90-93, (http://www.swedishtrade.se)

U.S. Commerce Department, Sweden, 011-468-783-5300, fax: 011-468-660-9181

Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, 011-46-8-613-1800, fax: 011-8-411-2432

Swedish National Board of Trade, 011-46-8-791-0500, fax: 011-46-8-20-0324

Federation of Swedish Commerce and Trade, Stockholm, 011-46-8-663-5280, fax: 011-46-8-662-7457

Contact Sources

DHL Worldwide Express, (800) CALL-DHL, (415) 802-4957, (http://www.dhl.com);

IKR Corp., 17 S. Briar Hollow Ln., #202, Houston, TX 77027, (713) 627-3520;

International Financial Data Ltd., 1420 Fifth Ave., #2200, Seattle, WA 98101;

Texas Trading, (214) 691-9499, txtrade@dhc.net>.