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Pinneering telecommunication in Thailand 1906
Photo credit: Ericsson

Thailand and Sweden:
A long-lasting relationship!

Featuring an interview with Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell on trade and innovation between Sweden and Thailand

Message from the Ambassador of Sweden and SweCham President


H.E. Mrs. Anna HammargrenAmbassador
Mr. Peter Björk

Dear Readers,

Today marks a momentous occasion as we celebrate both the Swedish National Day on 6 June and the 35th anniversary of the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce (SweCham). For the Chamber this is notjust a time for reflection on our remarkable journey but also a celebration of the enduring spirit of innovation that defines our partnership. Over three decades ago, SweCham was established as a vital link between Thailand and Sweden, fostering economic ties and trade exchanges.

Today, it stands as a testament to the fruitful collaboration between our two nations, driven by a clear commitment to progress and innovation.

Sweden is renowned for pushing boundaries, whether in technology, sustainability or social progress. Time and again, Sweden is recognised as one of the world’s top innovators, with globally known names such as AstraZeneca, ABB, Atlas Copco, Alfa Laval, Electrolux, Ericsson, IKEA, Hitachi Energy, Klarna, SAAB, Scania, Tetra Pak, Spotify and Volvo, all testaments to Sweden’s forward-thinking approach and investment in R & D. Sweden and Swedish companies have been investing and purchasing from Thailand, creating 100,000 jobs and contributing around 170 THB billion to the economy annually.

Team Sweden - comprising the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok, Business Sweden, and SweCham - has worked together to implement the Government of Sweden’s strategy for trade, investment and global competitiveness in Thailand.

This strategy focuses on promoting trade and investments, innovation, expanding exports as well as expanding the presence of Swedish companies abroad and strengthening Sweden’s position as the partner of choice for green and digital transition. Team Sweden actively supports this strategy through key initiatives like participating in trade exhibitions, hosting networking forums, organising company visits and strengthening academic networks to name a few.

Our commitment extends beyond mere business exchanges; it encompasses a broader vision of societal contributions. The annual Swedish Education and Career Days, as well as the Sweden Pavilion at the SX Sustainability Expo, Sweden-Thailand Sustainable Development Forum (SDF) and Pioneer the Possible, exemplify this dedication by bringing together visionary leaders and change-agents to address pressing sustainability issues.

Looking ahead, as we anticipate the SweCham 35th Anniversary Gala Dinner in November, we reflect on the milestones achieved and opportunities that lie ahead. This celebration is not just a marker of time but a reaffirmation of our commitment to foster innovation, drive economic prosperity and build a sustainable future. Together, we pave the way for continued success and collaboration between Thailand and Sweden, fuelled by the spirit of innovation and partnership.


The enduring relationship between The Kingdom of Thailand, Saab and The Kingdom of Sweden has delivered many important and unique capabilities to the Royal Thai Armed Forces – each helping to secure safety and security across air, land and sea. For many decades Saab has supported Thailand’s essential goals of sovereignty and self-reliance, and this commitment will continue far into the future.

Thailand operates the Gripen fighter and the Erieye Airborne Early Warning aircraft. They are the eyes and the teeth of the RTAF’s integrated Air Defence Solution.

Diplomatic relations have been in place between Thailand and Sweden for more than 150 years, since May 1868 in fact. Swedish defence and security cooperation with Thailand has been ongoing, in depth, for more than 40 years with Sweden serving as a reliable partner to assure Thailand’s strategic capabilities for independence and autonomy.

RTAF Gripens are connected to RTN warships through Thailand’s datalink network, allowing the fighters to be fully effective in support naval operations.

For Saab, Thailand stands out as one of its most important and valued customers, setting high requirements for technology, capability, performance and reliability. There is no better example of this than Thailand’s integrated Air Defence Solution; a complete command-and-control network serving the Thai Armed Forces, and the entire nation.

As part of this Air Defence Solution, Thailand operates Saab Gripen multirole fighters and Erieye airborne surveillance systems, connected through a secure, high-speed datalink network that delivers complete situational awareness across all the territory of Thailand. This netcentric capability is one of very few such systems actually operational anywhere in the world.

Saab has been active in Thailand since the mid-1980s and other key capabilities provided to the forces here include radar and air defence on land and at sea, ground combat systems and naval combat management systems together with training and simulation at many levels.

Saab’s world-leading position in civil air traffic management is also reflected all over Thailand where, starting almost 20 years ago, Saab products and systems have been adopted at the country’s four largest airports.

Through a strong belief in working with local partners Saab has consistently transferred important advanced technology and know-how into Thailand. Current and future projects will build on that proven track record, developing new opportunities not only in the areas of defence and aerospace but across a wide range of other key national industries and business sectors. Together with our owners the Wallenberg Foundation, their companies in Thailand and our partners in the UK, Saab supports Thailand’s ambition to develop new lines of high-tech national industry, to further secure long-term prosperity and strengthen independence by building more local capabilities and skills.

Saab’s presence at every level across the Royal Thai Armed Forces is a testament to its ability to supply and support highly-advanced systems that can be relied on to deal with any contingency. Saab’s strong partnerships with Thai industry show that there is great potential to keep working together and develop new ideas that meetthe needs of the Thai people, today and tomorrow. As Thailand sets out its vision for defence modernisation and industrial development Saab will continue to be the reliable, long-term partner to secure the future.

With the Gripen C and Gripen E multi-role fighters Saab has the most modern line-up of advanced combat aircraft anywhere in the world. Gripens are in service across four continents and serve proudly with the Royal Thai Air Force to deliver safety and security through independent AirPower for Thailand.

01. How come Sweden, as a small nation, can be world-leading in innovation year after year? (the latest ranking in Global Innovation Index is no. 2 after Switzerland). What will it take to sustain this leading role and how is the Swedish Government supporting this process?

Innovation has always been at the heart of Swedish policy. Our commitment to research and development (R&D) is among the highest globally, with over 3.4% of our GDP dedicated to fostering new ideas and breakthroughs. We believe that true innovation lies in translating knowledge into tangible products. Our collaborative efforts bridge academia, industry and research centres, ensuring that ideas don’t remain theoretical but become practical solutions. Our focus is on addressing real-world challenges – whether it’s sustainable energy, healthcare or digital transformation. The Swedish Government actively champions innovation through agencies like the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova), which administers state funding for needs-driven research, creating an environment conducive to groundbreaking ideas. This, paired with Swedish companies longstanding and widespread mindset to invest heavily in R&D themselves to ensure continuous development and global competitiveness, is a key factor.

02. The EU-Thailand foreign trade agreement negotiations have been re-established recently. Is there any level of Swedish Government involvement in these negotiations?

Sweden is a staunch supporter of free, sustainable and rules-based trade. We would warmly welcome a free trade agreement with Thailand, as such an agreement would benefit both sides and further strengthen our ties. We are both involved in, and supportive of, the resumed negotiations. The Council of the European Union – consisting of all Member States – has approved the negotiation mandates, and the European Commission is conducting the negotiations. Throughout the negotiation process, the Commission consults with Member States, including Sweden, to ensure that our interests are considered. Experts from Member States will also actively participate in reviewing progress.

03. Thailand is currently ranked in 37th place among Sweden’s export destination countries, as of 2023. What is the Minister’s view on how trade between Thailand and Sweden can increase for the benefit of both countries?

Sweden and Thailand’s longstanding trade relationship can be traced back to the 1868 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between then Siam and Sweden. This historical bond is truly something to cherish. Looking ahead, Sweden’s new strategy for trade, investment and global competitiveness also aims to enhance partnerships and cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand. I would like to see much more trade and investment flows between our countries, as well as stronger ties and cooperation on research and innovation. I also hope that Thailand and Thai companies will see Sweden and the Swedish industry as priority partners for green and digital transition.

04. Innovation, quality and free trade in sharp competition are key factors for Swedish export success. How will you promote Swedish businesses in Thailand this year?

My Government, through the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok as well as Business Sweden, is working to facilitate trade, encourage exports and imports, and strengthen Sweden’s economic presence in Thailand through a number of activities and initiatives. Some examples are bilateral discussions, engaging with the Thai government and Thai industry in various sectors to promote deepened cooperation, arranging seminars and being present at trade fairs to showcase Sweden’s added value. We also highly value the role of the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Swedish business community in Thailand to enhance commercial relations between our two countries.

05. Services are growing as a share of foreign trade. How will the Swedish Government support export of Swedish services to Thailand?

The Swedish Government strives to support trade in services through various channels and initiatives. Both exports and imports of services constitute important parts of overall trade relations and a modern-day economy.

06. The new Government in Thailand is actively promoting itself for foreign investments. Are there any Swedish initiatives to facilitate these opportunities for Swedish companies?

In November last year, Sweden’s Government adopted a new strategy for foreign trade, investments and global competitiveness. The Government actively strives to support Swedish companies in their global expansion by creating favourable conditions, promoting investment opportunities and fostering international partnerships. This serves as a framework to facilitate investment, protect investors and promote economic cooperation between Sweden and its partner countries. The recently adopted Swedish strategy has a special focus on Asia. Southeast Asia in particular is among the global growth markets where we see great potential for more trade and investments. And yes, there seems to be a growing interest from Swedish industry to invest in Thailand. Both the Embassy and Business Sweden report a clear increase in the number of requests for information and support when exploring possibilities to establish operations in Thailand.

07. For several years, Thailand has invested in whatis called Thailand 4.0 and becoming a regionalhub for Southeast Asia in the areas of innovation, connectivity, advanced manufacturing, aviation, trading and logistics. What is the Minister’s view on how Sweden can contribute to these areas?

We commend Thailand’s commitment to implementing measures to elevate the country to a classification as high-income. Sweden has a lot to offer to support Thailand’s ambitious vision. Whether it’s in the areas of aviation, logistics, future mobility or digital economy, we should be seen as a valuable and trusted partner in helping Thailand achieve its value-based and innovation-driven economy.

08. Terms and conditions for foreign investments vary in Southeast Asian countries. SweCham, together with the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, is actively working on advocacy issues to level the playing field through fewer regulations and free market access. What is the Minister’s view on how the Swedish Government can support these efforts?

We appreciate SweCham’s advocacy role for levelling the playing field for Swedish companies in Thailand. The Swedish Government and the EU are working towards minimising trade and investment barriers through negotiations. A free trade agreement between the EU and Thailand is expected to have several positive effects on facilitating the investment flows from the EU to Thailand.

09. What high-level Swedish visits to Thailand are planned for the rest of 2024, if any, and for what purpose?

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Jan Knutsson recently visited Bangkok, and ministerial bilateral meetings were held in the margin of international summits. We are currently in the process of planning additional visits and warmly welcome incoming ones from Thailand.

10. World-class education is a key factor for development and a cornerstone for any country to excel in innovation. What is the Minister’s view on how Sweden can support the new generation of Thais in innovation? How could the Swedish Government attract more Thais to industrial university programmes in Sweden? (For example, the Royal Institute of Technology has accepted 11 Thai students for the 2024/25 academic year.)

Sweden places great emphasis on education. Our education system produces innovators, skilled professionals, researchers and entrepreneurs. We hope that more and more Thai students choose Sweden as a studying destination and have noted our emphasis on critical thinking and sustainability across the board. We promote ‘Study in Sweden’ opportunities for foreign students through various channels, such as participating in education fairs, engaging with perspective students and encouraging collaboration between universities in both countries, to name a few. Thai students’ interest in studying in Sweden is increasing, and it is great to see that the active alumni network here in Thailand has almost 500 members.

11. The Swedish defence and security industry is world-leading, thanks in large part to continuously investing in R&D, driven by innovation. The competition is extremely tough, and we have had earlier success with Singapore and Thailand during the 2000s. How will you, as Minister for Foreign Trade, support continuous export and technology transfer of Swedish systems and products to Thailand and ASEAN?

The Gripen air fighter, as well as other Swedish defence materiel, has contributed very sophisticated high-tech to Thailand. We would like to further deepen our defence cooperation, including on innovation for the broader benefit of Thailand. Our recent defence innovation initiative will create new opportunities. As security in the Indo-Pacific and Euro - Atlantic areas is increasingly linked, we believe it is important to deepen ties with partners and friends.


Sweden’s history is rich with innovation, spanning centuries and crossing diverse fields of endeavour.

From the industrial revolution to the digital age, Swedish inventors have made groundbreaking contributions that have shaped industries and improved lives worldwide. Sweden has a long tradition of recognizing innovators and providing them with opportunities and having access to government. The country has a great belief in gender equality and equal education opportunities. In 1842, Sweden introduced compulsory schooling from 7 years of age and this step was a game changer for Sweden as it resulted in the overall high level of education among the people and became essential in Sweden’s journey from an agricultural nation to an innovation leader. From the invention of the Celsius temperature scale in 1742 to the development of what would quickly become the world’s leading music streaming platform (Spotify) in 2006.

Swedish inventors have left a hard-to-reach mark on human history, shaping global industries, saving lives, and connecting the world. The pioneering spirit, ingenuity and relentless pursuit of innovation continue to inspire generations of inventors and entrepreneurs worldwide, driving progress and shaping the future of technology and society. Sweden ranks #2 (2023) in the Global Innovation Index as one of the most innovative countries globally and has been top ranked since the index was established in 2007.

Following are some examples of inventions that showcase Sweden’s diverse contribution to various fields, like engineering, medicine, telecom, gaming, design, consumer products and services, spanning from the early industrial age to today’s digital era. Swedish innovations and patents, since more than 150 years, have founded several global companies with presence in Thailand, including ABB, Ericsson, Volvo, Scania, SAAB, Electrolux, IKEA, Tetra Pak, SKF, Alfa Laval and Autoliv. Ericsson is today the #1 leading holder of active patents worldwide.

Ericsson Celebrates 118 Years Of Innovation In Thailand

The relationship between Sweden and Thailand has been strong for many years, commencing with a visit by King Rama V to Sweden in 1897. Ericsson commemorates the 118th Anniversary in Thailand in 2024, when the first ever public telephone exchange in the country was deployed in 1906. Ericsson is de facto the first Swedish international company to be established in Thailand.

The relationship between Sweden and Thailand has been strong for many years, commencing with a visit by King Rama V to Sweden in 1897. Ericsson commemorates the 118th Anniversary in Thailand in 2024, when the first ever public telephone exchange in the country was deployed in 1906. Ericsson is de facto the first Swedish international company to be established in Thailand. Ericsson started its operations here when the state-owned TOT needed to modernise its telephone network by delivering a station for the capital city of Bangkok with 2,400 subscriber lines. Ericsson sent one of its engineers to supervise both installation of the telephone station and construction of the network.

Some other notable milestones
TOT engaged Ericsson for a major network expansion.
The first Private Branch Exchange (PBX) was delivered and installed in Thailand.
Ericsson supplied its first crossbar switching station to Thailand, which was installed in Bangkok and served 10,000 subscribers.
The first AXE switching stations were installed in Thailand
Thailand's, first mobile telephone network, an Ericsson Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) system, was taken into operation as one of Asia's first.
Ericsson received new orders for fixed network deployment.
Ericsson received its first order for 2G (GSM) digital mobile telephone system for AIS.
Ericsson received its first order of a 3G system from DTAC.
Ericsson's first live 5G Trial in Thailand.
Ericsson inaugurated live 5G commercial operations with True.

Ericsson committed to driving Thailand’s 5G leadership and Industry 4.0 Vision

Global 5G leader Ericsson looks forward to leveraging its world-leading technology, global deployment experience and use cases to drive Thailand’s 5G leadership and support the country towards realising its Industry 4.0 Vision.

Anders Rian, President of Ericsson Thailand states, "We are leveraging this global expertise and technology leadership to keep our customers in Thailand and elsewhere at the forefront of 5G.“

"It is important to ensure Thailand's 5G networks are secure, performing well and resilient, so that new use cases for 5G can materialise - especially given the demand from Thai consumers and enterprises," he said.

Ericsson has more than 200 enterprise contracts with enterprises across manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, ports, airports, energy plants, and mining industries worldwide.

"We have deployed 5G in leading automotive factories and our own manufacturing units in the USA and China. We understand the requirements of the enterprises and have the experience to bring key eco-system players together to drive innovation and create value at scale for our Communication Service Providers," Anders said.

Ericsson commemorates its 118th Anniversary in Thailand in 2024. Ericsson also celebrates 147 years since its founder, Lars Magnus Ericsson, officially opened the doors to his mechanical workshop in Stockholm, Sweden. The relationship between Sweden and Thailand has been strong for many years, commencing with a visit by King Rama V to Sweden in 1897.

Sustainability In Action At Electrolux Swedish Thinking. Better Living.

At the heart of Electrolux is the essence of Swedish thinking-simplicity, functionality, and sustainability. Electrolux Group has shaped living for the better for more than 100 years. The company reinvents taste, care, and wellbeing experiences for millions of people, always striving to be at the forefront of sustainability in society. With Electrolux home appliances, consumers not only get the latest in technology but also contribute to a more sustainable future.
Vitor Maia, Electrolux’s Vice President of Commercial Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (APAC-MEA), shares Electrolux’s vision and commitment to innovation and sustainability for outstanding consumer experiences and Thailand’s role in its regional commercial strategy.

In the home appliances industry, Electrolux is world-renowned for innovation. How does this legacy continue today?

Vitor Maia: Having started out by selling our first vacuum cleaner in 1912, Electrolux is now a global leader in home appliances. Our design and product development are based on the philosophy of 'thoughtful design' rooted in the Scandinavian design tradition. We develop and apply consumer insights into all aspects of the brand experience.

How are Electrolux appliances contributing to a healthier lifestyle and environment?

Vitor Maia: We offer appliances to help consumers use less energy and water in their homes. For example, our washing machines use up to 30% less energy, and our lightweight handstick vacuum cleaners are made of up to 70% recycled material. Our iF Design award-winning air fryers allow consumers to cook their food with up to 90% less fat and up to 50% fewer calories in a faster and more energy-efficient way while our heat pump dryers keep clothes looking new for longer with up to 50% less energy usage.

Sustainability is a hot topic these days. How is Electrolux making a difference?

Vitor Maia: Sustainability is an integral part of Electrolux Group's strategy, and we are on a journey to become a truly sustainable company. We're proud to have our second science-based climate target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout our value chain. This new target comes after achieving our first target three years ahead of plan. In 2023, we were recognized with an "A" for our Climate work and in the Household Durables category in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).

What key sustainability progress was made in your operations?

Vitor Maia: Our manufacturing sites, including our Rayong Plants in Thailand, have made great progress on energy efficiency in recent years. 60% of the energy used in our operations comes from renewable sources, including solar energy. In 2023, 98.3% of our total manufacturing waste was either reused or recovered - and 71% of our factories, including our Rayong Plants, were 'Zero Waste to Landfill' certified, meaning we send less than 1% of our waste to landfill.

How does Thailand contribute to your business strategy?

Vitor Maia: Thailand offers a dynamic business environment and serves as a strategic location for Asia. With two decades of operation, our Rayong Factory has been producing our quality appliances exported to 43 countries worldwide. Our Bangkok office is also our regional commercial and talent hub for Asia. This signifies our confidence in Thailand's potential and its alignment with our innovative and sustainable vision for consumers.

As we observe 'Thailand and Sweden, a truly sustainable relationship', how do you see this partnership evolving?

Vitor Maia: Electrolux has brought Swedish innovation to Thailand for 47 years today with over 2,500 employees in Bangkok and Rayong. We integrate sustainability into Thai consumers' daily lives towards a greener future. We are proud to contribute to the enriching relationship between Sweden and Thailand. Swedish thinking. Better living.


Inovation is fundamental to what we do at Tetra Pak. It is what enables us to uphold our commitment to ‘make food safe and available everywhere’ and to deliver on our promise to protect what’s good: food, people and the planet.

Innovation means using emerging technologies and our 70+ years of accumulated expertise to protect and expand access to safe food. It means protecting people by making way for the brightest talent, giving them a place to develop their skills and bring their ideas to life. And it means protecting the planet by leading the sustainability transformation across the value chain, aiming to minimise the use of resources, and optimise the lifecycle of everything we produce.

Ratanasiri Tilokskulchai,Managing Director ofTetra Pak (Thailand) Limited

“Innovation to Tetra Pak means empowering our customers to achieve high standards of food safety and availability for people all over the world. And we take pride in helping our customers choose the right path for them. We are committed to innovating with Thailand’s industry leaders and customers in seizing new growth opportunities together. We are dedicated to meeting the challenges of our industry today and co-create customised solutions for a better tomorrow,” said Ratanasiri Tilokskulchai, Managing Director of Tetra Pak (Thailand) Limited.

Tetra Pak will continue innovating to address global food challenges. In order to accelerate and amplify impacts, we will join forces with customers, partners and suppliers. Together we will explore new food sources, new recipes, new production methods and new ways of working. We will develop more resource-efficient equipment, more advanced automation and digital solutions, and more sustainable food packaging.

Innovating with you and for you - Innovation starts here

Looking to create a new product that will capture the hearts of your consumers? Or is your focus on reducing costs and decarbonising production? Whatever your current vision, we’re dedicated to innovating both with you and for you to build a more resilient and profitable future.

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Amrapur Tailors, a Bespoke Custom Tailor since the 1960s, began as the first Military Tailors at Kadena Air Force Base (Okinawa, Japan). Today, we continue to serve clients with over 60 years of experience, crafting handcrafted garments for a range of prestigious clientele, including former presidents, Congressmen, ambassadors, and military professionals. We are proud partners of Cobra Gold, Thailand’s largest military exercise, for over 35 years.

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