COVID-19 impact on business and trade
On Thursday the 9th of April, The Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce organised its first ever webinar for members and representatives of the Swedish-Australian business community to discuss the business and trade impact of the Coronavirus and how businesses can adapt to the current environment.
The webinar hosted a number of panellists representing Swedish business, media and government. HE Henrik Cederin, Swedish Ambassador to Australia opened the discussions with a bilateral perspective on the developing crisis and pointed out that the first point to address is that, despite the difficult times we are facing with people leaving Australia and Sweden as well as supply chains being under pressure and companies not being able to operate as normal, we have in place a very fruitful cooperation in many fields, that we must make sure to protect and maintain.
He also stressed that “There will be a future after the COVID-19 crisis and while we are absorbed by the difficulties and challenges during this time, we must not forget the work that lies ahead of us and that we must maintain political contact. Australia is a very likeminded country [to Sweden] in many ways and we share similar perspectives and we need to maintain those links to Australia despite the challenges we are facing at the moment” said Ambassador Cederin.
No industry is un-impacted by the consequences of the isolation and restricted trading measures, and one industry directly affected is the Retail industry. Representing a large multinational retailer IKEA, Jan Gardberg, CEO & CSO IKEA Australia & New Zealand, pointed out the need to access the facts and approach this situation with calmness and togetherness and he recommends to unite management efforts around five focus areas: Customer focus, your people, understand your core and unique strengths (at IKEA that is The Home), understanding what you really can control and influence and ensuring crystal clear communication channels.
Another industry also very much in the spotlight during the COVID-19 crisis is MedTech. Jaylea Strauch – President of Getinge Australia and New Zealand – discussed how Getinge was locally navigating through this initial stage of the crisis by ensuring the workforce had the technology and ability work remotely, therefore continuing to deliver an essential service within a short space of time. By ensuring that communication is regular and open, especially with a many working remotely, Jaylea adds “… there’s no special recipe but it is how you are communicating and enabling your leadership team that is important” and she continued “IT also plays a big role in regards to business continuity”.
Martin Ekberg, Swedish Trade Commissioner in Australia shared with the webinar audience the global economic outlook and the economic shock waves that are now impacting all markets around the globe. GDP growth was expected to be around 3% before the crisis but now all markets are in negative territory and it is not looking like a recovery is neigh. Surveys conducted surveying Australian and Swedish businesses show fairly similar responses in terms of expectations of economic output both in the short-term as well as in mid-term time frame.
Personally, impacted by the travel restrictions, visiting Australia from Sweden, Carl Thulin, Foreign Affairs Editor at Dagens Industri, Sweden’s largest financial daily newspaper also addressed the audience.
Part of the industry in Sweden is seeking more government support and wants the state to take a greater share of the salaries. “Generous aid now will be much cheaper than the long-term effects of many bankruptcies” is the general view of industry in Sweden said Carl.
Also, a point of discussion, mainly amongst academics, is addressing the downside of globalisation and supply chain pressures raising the question whether Swedish companies should bring back production to Sweden. For example, there is currently suggestions to start producing vaccine in Sweden for the domestic market.
Carl finished on a positive note on how many businesses have been able to quickly shift their production and meet new demands. On a person to person level, as reflected by author Kerstin Ekman, people are actually also now helping each other more and “a wave of decency” is running through society.
Article by, Teresia Fors, Vice President Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce
To view the webinar in full, please follow link SACC COVID-19 impact on business and trade (1)
SACC is presenting a number of webinars over the coming months, please stay connected through our social channels Facebook , Linkedin , Twitter and www.swedishchamber.com.au for upcoming online events and webinars.