SWEDEN \ MEDICAL FIRMS FIND HEALTHY MARKET IN SWEDEN

SWEDEN \ MEDICAL FIRMS FIND HEALTHY MARKET IN SWEDEN

Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., which began conducting clinical trials on cancer and infectious diseases in Sweden in 1993, has no regrets about doing business in that market.

''We've found Sweden to be very beneficial for our company. There are excellent scientists and clinicians, a highly efficient (product) registration process and numerous scientific institutes,'' said Larry Stambaugh, chairman.The San Diego firm has conducted almost all of its initial clinical trials in Sweden. By late 1999, Maxim hopes to complete the third phase of a trial to test maximine, its principal drug in the United States, Europe and Australia for the treatment of malignant melanoma and acute myelogenous leukemia.

Sweden's well-established life sciences market spends $1.1 billion annually on research and development in cancer, neuroscience, endocrinology, immunology, infectious diseases, hematology, genetics and inflammation, among other areas, according to Invest in Sweden Agency. Investors also benefit from a compliant patient population, willing to test and easily trackable; low-cost databases; a large number of contract research organizations; and the lowest corporate tax rate in the European Union, 28 percent, according to ISA.

The market is highly competitive. However, sales prospects are promising for new entrants in such areas as antibiotics, anti-asthmatics, treatment for Alzheimer's disease, AIDS and cancer, according to a recent report of the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm.

BUYING FROM . . .

Principal exports

Machinery, motor vehicles, paper products, pulp and wood, iron and steel products and chemicals.

Principal exports to the United States

Vehicles and vehicle parts, machinery and machine parts, equipment and equipment parts, iron and steel.

Principal foreign markets

Germany, Britain, Norway and the United States.

Export programs

The Swedish Export Credit Corp. grants medium- to long-term credits to finance exports of capital goods and large-scale service projects.

Major banks

Nordbanken, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Svenska Handelsbanken and Swedbank.

Currency

Rate: US$1=8.0723 kronor (February 1998 average).

Language

Swedish is the official language.

Time difference

GMT +1, EST +6.

Public holidays/business hours

1998: Jan. 1, 6; April 10, 13; May 1, 21; June 1, 22; Nov. 1; Dec. 25-26. Business hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

International transportation

The main international airport is in Arlanda. Bus services connects the airport to Stockholm, which is 26 miles away. There are also international airports in Landvetter, 15 miles from Gothenburg, and in Sturup, 17 miles from Malmo.

SELLING TO . . .

Principal imports

Machinery, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, motor vehicles and foodstuffs.

Principal imports from the United States

Machinery and machine parts, equipment and equipment parts, and non-railway vehicles.

Potential growth imports from the United States

Nonagricultural: computer services, computer software, travel and tourism and telecommunications services. Agricultural: organic food, crayfish, salmon and softwood plywood.

Barriers to trade

Certain goods - such as weapons, explosives, drugs and poisons - may only be imported by authorized persons or institutions and require import licenses or special permits.

Principal foreign suppliers

Germany, Britain, Norway and the Netherlands.

Market size

The population was 8.8 million, growing at 2.9 percent annually, in December 1997.

Before you go

U.S. travelers must carry a passport and need a visa for stays longer than three months. For more information, contact the Embassy of Sweden, 1501 M Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. Telephone: (202) 467-2600.

INVESTING IN . . .

Incentives

There are no exchange controls or restrictions on acquisitions of Swedish companies by foreigners. The government offers subsidies for capital investment, soft investments, reduced payroll taxes, location and employment grants for companies setting up or expanding businesses in depressed areas, particularly in the sparsely populated north. The National Board for Industrial and Technical Development provides numerous incentives for research and development programs.

Domestic industries

Iron and steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods and motor vehicles.

Best sectors

Health care (biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceuticals), information technology and telecommunications, automotive, aircraft and aerospace, forest industry and wood products, steel, electrical equipment, industrial tooling, mining and mining equipment, environmental technology and food.

Economy

The economy grew 1.8 percent in 1997, according to Statistics Sweden. Growth forecasts for 1998 vary. Swedish institute Konjunkturinstitutet predicts 2.7 percent growth while Barclays Bank forecasts 3.5 percent growth. Inflation, about 2 percent in 1997, should slow to 0.8 percent in 1998, according to the institute.

Tax structure

The corporate tax rate is 28 percent. The dividends tax is 30 percent, but the rate for foreign companies whose governments have double-taxation treaties with Sweden ranges from zero to 5 percent.

Real estate

There are no restrictions on property ownership by foreigners.

Infrastructure

Sweden has world-class infrastructure, including excellent highways and railroad systems, modern ports for containerized shipping and deregulated telecommunications services. There are free-trade zones in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Norrkoping and Arlanda.

Investment agency

Invest in Sweden Agency, S-103 38, Stockholm. Visiting address: Gustav Adolfs torg 18. Telephone: 46-8-676-8876 (inward investment inquiries). Fax: 46-8-676-8888.