"We are working to normalise relations"

The decision by Saudi Arabia on Thursday to stop issuing visas to Swedish business people has shaken the Swedish business community. "This must be resolved now. It's actually Swedish jobs at stake,"  Andreas Åström of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce told TT.

Sweden's credibility as a trading partner has received a severe blow, according to Andreas Åström.

"This is very serious, both for companies operating in the country and those located in trading areas.With this decision, Saudi Arabia is sending ominous signals about how it is thinking about about the future," he says to news Agency TT.
 
Even several large companies such as Scania and LKAB are worried by the announcement.

"It is worrying that the unrest has escalated and that they are taking such drastic measures. Almost 30 percent of our output goes to the Middle East and North Africa and we are in negotiations with customers  there this spring," says LKAB's communications director Frank Hojem to TT.
 
Scania has no business in Saudi Arabia but occasionally sends people there to visit importers.

"This will obviously affect Scania's opportunities to have sales in Saudi Arabia. It is very disturbing when bilateral agreements and diplomatic controversies affect business," says Hans-Åke Danielsson, communications manager at Scania.

Saudi Arabia's decision to stop issuing business visas to Swedes was confirmed by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign affairs on Thursday afternoon.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven gave his reaction to Swedish Radio News.

"We do not want this situation with Saudi Arabia. We have been clear all the time that we want a good relationship with Saudi Arabia and we are working seriously and systematically with it, says Stefan Löfven.

Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg is meeting with executives from Swedish industry on Thursday evening.

" I will talk about what the government is doing but also to listen to those companies that are active in the region to see if they have encountered a problem and if there are misunderstandings that we can help each other, says Mikael Damberg to Swedish Radio News.

"It is clear that this is not good and we are working to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia and making sure that it does not spread to more countries. We are very careful to emphasize that what the government did was to not extend military collaboration with Saudi Arabia. An agreement that had a very strong political majority in parliament," says Mikael Damberg.