Trade Delegation Campaign: Sweden
UANI's "Sweden Campaign" highlights the extensive and ongoing Iran business activities of Swedish firms, which are completely at odds with Sweden’s status as the world’s leading human rights advocate. While Sweden touts itself as leading the fight for human rights overseas, its companies quietly continue to enrich and legitimize the Iranian regime, one of the world’s most heinous abusers of its own citizens’ basic human rights. The hypocrisy of Swedish companies doing business in Iran while riding on the coattails of the country’s high-minded moral reputation is stark.
The hypocrisy is especially noticeable in the face of the mass exodus of dozens of other European firms out of Iran. While British Airways, Air France, Renault, Maersk, Total and dozens of other major European companies have all confirmed intentions to sever their Iran business, many big Swedish industrial and engineering firms are still quietly clinging on. Notably Alfa Lava, ABB, SKF, and until very recently Volvo, have all declined to cut their Iran ties.
Alfa Laval acknowledged that Iran business was “not quite straightforward” last year but still has an operation in Iran. Swedish-Swiss conglomerate ABB confirmed to UANI that it was “finalizing existing contracts in Iran in line with existing trade regulations.” SKF continues to advertise its Iran business operations on its website.
It’s not just the Swedish government which plugs its devotion to human rights. Leveraging Sweden’s national reputation, the same companies all boast about their own corporate commitments. For instance Alfa Laval CEO Tom Erixon declared his company “is committed to upholding human rights.”
More surprising, every one of these Swedish firms are beneficiaries of large U.S. government contracts, and all have major operations all around the United States. While other European companies have recently publicly stated that they are choosing America over Iran, these firms apparently believe they will be able to continue trading with both. They are wrong.
Sweden should not benefit from American trade, contracts and access to consumer markets while it continues to do business with Iran.
Sweden should not transfer its world-leading expertise in engineering, construction and heavy industry to Iran.
And Sweden should not jeopardize its decades-long and hard-earned reputation as the global leader in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide.
For more analysis, check UANI’s New Europe Op-ed comparing Swedish ethics versus Swedish actions in Iran.
UANI Corporate Campaigns
In 2013, in response to UANI’s Auto Campaign, Swedish commercial vehicle and construction equipment manufacturer Volvo Group (AB Volvo) ended its business in Iran. Volvo subsidiaries Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks had done extensive business in Iran, and UANI presented Volvo with photographic evidence of its trucks being used by the Iranian regime to transport missiles. However, in 2015 Volvo reportedly resumed business in Iran.. On August 8, 2018 – two days after the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector – Volvo Group declined to confirm its intentions to cut ties in Iran. Instead, it told UANI that it was “continuing to closely monitor how the situation is developing.” In October 2018, however, Volvo finally conceded defeat, admitting, “We can’t get paid ... So for now we don’t have any business (in Iran).” Volvo’s actions followed a UANI op-ed published in New Europe specifically criticizing Sweden’s flagship company for its intransigence. Volvo is an original signatory to the United Nations Global Compact – the gold standard in corporate social responsibility.
In 2011, following discussions with UANI, ABB, a Swedish-Swiss Fortune 500 engineering firm, ended its oil and gas business in Iran in response to a notice received from the California Department of General Services, which has been using UANI’s Iran Business Registry to vet state contractors. In January 2016 ABB reopened an office in Tehran, Iran. On August 14, 2018, ABB declined to confirm its intentions to withdraw in a letter to UANI. Instead it stated it was “finalizing existing contracts in Iran in line with existing trade regulations.”
As part of its global education campaign in 2016 UANI warned Sandvik of the risks associated with operating in and doing business with Iran following its attendance at the Iranian Steel Pipe & Tube Conference in Tehran. Sandvik’s previous Iranian ventures included a 2010 agreement with Iran’s Paros Oil & Gas Company to provide equipment for the development of the South Pars gas field. Sandvik, now operating as IPCO, appears to have recently removed its Iran webpage.
As part of its global education campaign in 2016 and 2018 UANI warned Cue Dee of the risks associated with operating in and doing business with Iran and the possibility of regime misuse of telecommunications equipment and services, following its attendance at the Iran Telecom Innovations Conference in Tehran. Cue Dee also lists a partnership with RASIS Corporation, based in Tehran Province on its company website.
As part of its global education campaign UANI warned Alfa Laval of the risks associated with operating in and doing business with Iran and highlighted the disturbing incongruity of companies from Sweden, the world’s leading human rights proponent, doing business in Iran, one of the world’s worst human rights violators. On December 10, 2016, Alfa Laval stated, it had opened a local company located in Tehran. Despite acknowledging that Iran operations were not “straightforward,” Alfa Laval continues to advertise its Tehran office on its official website.
As part of its global education campaign UANI warned SKF of the risks associated with operating in and doing business with Iran and highlighted the disturbing incongruity of companies from Sweden, the world’s leading human rights proponent, doing business in Iran, one of the world’s worst human rights violators. According to its website, SKF operates SKF Eurotrade AB – Iran in Tehran, Iran.