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Sweden must do more to tempt UK firms after Brexit

Staff Writer |
Sweden's government has not done enough since the Brexit vote to tempt UK companies to move their headquarters to Sweden, according to Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, chief economist at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

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While Denmark set up a special Brexit task force the day after Britain voted to leave the EU, the Swedish government has reacted too slowly and risks missing out on lucrative opportunities, the economist claims.

Britain’s decision to quit the union was regretful, Hatzigeorgiou says, but the government should have acted more swiftly to entice technology and finance firms to set up bases in Sweden, a country with full access to the EU’s common market.

“We estimate that we only have a year and a half to get Sweden ready to receive investments from the UK,” he told news agency TT.

The economist listed three areas in need of immediate attention: solving the housing crisis, expanding Arlanda airport, and ensuring Sweden’s tax rules on share options didn’t scare off British companies.

The government has proposed making it easier for growth-phase firms to offer share options to key employees, but: “The proposals are too limited to make a difference and are confined to small companies for a certain number of years,” said Hatzigeorgiou.

Enterprise minister Mikael Damberg rejected the criticism, arguing that Sweden had started preparing for Brexit even before Denmark.

“We were working on Brexit long before it became a reality and we were in London at the end of May to meet Swedish businesspeople and hear about their concerns. We have a working group and are working across the ministries on the possibility of temping firms and authorities to Sweden,” said Damberg.

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