Textile and clothing industry
The Swedish textile and clothing industry was most extensive around 1950. Subsequently, manufacturing costs turned out to be lower in southern European countries and the Swedish textile industry began to shift its production there. In the early 1990s, many Swedish tea companies moved their operations to the Baltic States, at least for a time. Competition was also getting stronger from low-wage countries in eastern and southeast Asia, primarily China. At the beginning of the 2000s, no simple textiles and clothing production was left in Sweden. At the clothing factories that survived the crisis, fine men’s shirts and special work clothes for, for example, priests were sewn.
The majority of clothing sold in Sweden has been manufactured in China, Bangladesh or India.
The Swedish tech industry has now increasingly found niches with the production of new materials and a more special clothing such as fashion goods, rugged casual wear, protective clothing and other work clothes. This has contributed to increased sales and exports each year.
In the textile industry, the production of materials for technical and industrial use is increasing, for example for sails, parachutes and machine cloths, and there are Swedish textile companies that have become world leaders in such technical textiles. The industry is increasingly focused on research and development than before and sees its future in increased use of bio-based materials. The research concerns, among other things, high-tech materials such as flame retardant and warning fabrics and better recycling of plant fibers in used textiles. Compare textile and clothing industry.
The chemical industry here mainly includes the sub-industries manufacture of basic chemical products, pharmaceuticals and production of rubber and plastic products.
The chemical industry is one of the most important industries in Sweden, especially in terms of exports. In 2018, it accounted for about 12 percent of goods exports. Productivity is high and value added as well; In 2016, the chemical industry accounted for just over 15 percent of the value added of the entire industry. For a history of the Swedish chemical industry see chemical industry.
The Basque chemical industry is very capital-intensive with large facilities but with relatively few employees. Stenungsund is still the main place for the production of basic chemicals and there are 5 of Sweden’s 10 largest chemical companies with plants.
For example, in Stenungsund is Akzo Nobel’s ethylene oxide factory, which manufactures a number of basic chemical products that are part of the chemical industry as well as in other operations. In the area, the company also produces surfactants that are used in, among other things, detergents and other hygiene products, a niche in which the company is a world leader. There is also Borealis AB, which produces ethylene and propylene, including for nearby chemical companies, as well as insulation materials for cables and pipes.
Elsewhere in the country, there are also larger companies that manufacture basic chemicals. The largest among them is GE Healthcare Biosciences in Uppsala, which focuses on organic basic chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry.
During the late 1900s, the pharmaceutical industry was a rapidly growing industry (see the pharmaceutical industry).
During the late 1990s, the Swedish companies faced growing problems as it became increasingly complicated, time-consuming and costly to develop new drugs. The structure of the industry changed dramatically through acquisitions, mergers and product specialization. In 2001-14, the number of employees in the industry halved and the pharmaceutical industry’s export share shrunk to 6 percent in 2014.
Nowadays, AstraZeneca’s Swedish operations have been merged to Mölndal (research) and Södertälje (manufacturing). However, many small, innovative pharmaceutical companies are emerging in the environments around the university hospitals. Some of them deliver to large companies under contracts, others develop ideas for semi-finished products in companies that are then sold to major players.
The large established companies have continued problems as a result of the expiration of patents on their best sellers and the competitive conditions change radically as the pharmaceutical industry grows strongly in new industrialized countries with ever-increasing production of generic medicines.
Rubber and plastic products industry. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Swedish rubber industry underwent a period of rationalizations, international acquisitions and closures. Five of the six large tire factories in Sweden were closed down; the largest, in Gislaved, was purchased by a German company and closed down in 2002. Compare the rubber industry.
The Swedish rubber industry has developed new types of synthetic rubber and is now focused on manufacturing details for the international market.
Former tire manufacturer Trelleborg AB has in Forsheda a large production of rubber and plastic components for the automotive industry. The rubber and plastic products industry includes many small and medium-sized companies, some of them around Gislaved and Forsheda in Småland.