Later on Tuesday, January 29th, we sent to the Holiday Inn on Rockside Road in Independence to attend the annual meeting of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce Ohio (SACC-Ohio) whose mission is “to promote trade, commerce and investments between Sweden and the Ohio Region.
We looked forward to being addressed by video by Mr. Bjorn Arvidsson, Minister Counselor, Head of Trade and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C.
Before Mr. Arvidsson spoke, Mr. Christian Bernadotte, Chairman of SACC-Ohio Board, briefed us about new, unusual political alliances in Sweden among the mainstream political parties. Both the extreme left and the extreme right have been shunned. However, while it appears that the Swedish Democrats, a populist party with pronounced anti-immigrant sentiments, does not wield too much governmental power at this time, it is the third largest political party in Sweden and garnered 18% of the vote and 62 seats in parliament so its social impact cannot be denied.
During his remarks, Mr. Arvidsson talked about trade matters and upheld the long-standing, overall positive relationship between Sweden and the United States, although he expressed concern about the effect of the recent US tariffs on the steel and automotive industries.
During the Q and A, we asked Mr. Arvidsson about possible changes to Swedish immigration policy, which for years was quite accepting of the foreign-born. Lately, however, many people are not approving of the numbers of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East who have settled in enclaves where crime is a problem.
The minister counselor replied that the government is considering changes in this area including capping the number of immigrants/refugees and perhaps a stricter citizenship test wherein knowledge of the Swedish language will be emphasized.
While we were there, we chatted with Ms. Gayle Ramstrom of ideastream, who told us how much fun she had at the December, 2018 holiday party of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC. because she enjoyed seeing old friends and making some new ones including our attorneys and staffers visiting us from our Atlanta office.
Ms. Ramstrom also mentioned that she had a great lunch the previous week at the Pearl Asian Kitchen and that she plans to return soon because the menu contained too many delectable options to consume in just one sitting.