Trade can help both democracy and liberty along the way, said Ewa Björling, Minister for Trade. “We have been trading free since the Vikings’ time,” she said, explaining that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), anti-corruption and safeguarding the environment are some of the areas that Sweden today, in various forms, are exporting. The seminar presented a report – Trading for democracy and freedom – written by Ewa Bjorling.
“I am convinced that trade can contribute to values that go beyond the economic – to peace, human rights, freedom and openness,” Ewa Björling writes in her report. She is convinced that trading indirectly contributes to a greater respect for human rights and free trade “contributes to increased prosperity, which in turn strengthens the ability of people to actively work towards a larger freedom.”
The Minister for Trade also believes that trade contributes more directly to democracy and human rights “by spreading technology and ideas across the globe, increasing the transparency of previously closed countries and create interfaces between people who would otherwise not meet.”A section of the report deals with the impact of boycotts and other sanctions. Do they work? asks Björling and writes: “There is not always an easy answer to that question. Though, too often it is actually the very people we want to punish or force for change, which has most to gain from sanctions imposed.”During the presentation several questions were asked about boycotting this or that country. Britain’s Ambassador to Sweden Andrew Mitchell, who was in the audience and Ewa Björling exchanged ideas – from two different starting points – on free trade. The discussion covered the EU’s ability to act as a unit.Boycott and the EU’s relationship with Belarus and the West’s trade with Africa were other issues raised by the audience.