Politics

Swedish Prime Minister Sounds Positively Trumpian Note on Immigration

Fissures show on trade, however, with president vowing to implement steel and aluminum tariffs in 'a very loving way'

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven bristled last month at President Donald Trump’s characterization of the impact of mass migration on the Scandinavian country.

During a visit to the White House on Tuesday, however, Löfven sounded downright Trumpian on the issue.

“We have our share of domestic challenges, no doubt about that,” he said during a joint news conference with Trump. “So we inherited legislation that was not sustainable, legislation on migration.”

Löfven, speaking in flawless English, noted that his country accepted 163,000 refugees in 2015 — most of them between September and December.

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“We changed the legislation,” he told reporters. “So now we’ve decreased the number of refugees entering Sweden, and we’re also putting pressure on the other European Union countries to take their share of the responsibility. This is not a responsibility for one, two, three or four countries. It is a shared responsibility.”

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Löfven’s remarks came after Trump had reiterated his assessment of Swedish immigration.

“Certainly, you have a problem with the immigration,” he said. “It’s caused problems in Sweden. I was one of the first ones to say it. I took a little heat, but that was OK. ‘Cause I proved to be right. But you do have a problem, and I know the problem will slowly disappear — hopefully, rapidly disappear.”

Löfven said his government had taken measures to crack down on crime and terrorism and argued the country has made progress.

“We also have problems with crime, organized crime in Sweden. Shootings,” he said. “But it’s not like you have these ‘no-go zones.’ We have dealt with it and dealing with every day, allocating more resources to police.”

The two leaders differed on trade, however. Löfven noted that exports account for about half of Sweden’s gross domestic product.

“So, for us, it is crucially important that we have this open and free trade … We want this to be resolved in cooperation,” he said.

Trump, however, stood firm with his counterpart a few feet away. He said he intends to follow through on his vow to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum and would do so in a “very loving way.”

Trump said it is part of his plan to reorient America’s trade policies.

“Well, the United States has been taken advantage of by other countries, both friendly and not so friendly for many, many decades,” he said. “And we have a trade deficit of $800 billion a year. And that’s not gonna happen with me. We have been mistreated by many.”

Trump said the European Union has not treated America well and that his priority is to American workers.

Trump shrugged off a question about fears that tariffs could set off a trade war.

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“When we’re behind on every other country, trade wars aren’t so bad,” he said.

Löfven downplayed any negative impact on the bilateral relationship, although he acknowledged disagreements on trade and the environment.

“But having said that, still we know that the relationship is a good [one] … The values are there, and we cooperate very, very good on economic issues and making sure that there are great jobs and growth, and also on security issues,” he said.

Trump repaid the compliment.

“Sweden’s a great country. It’s small, but it’s very sharp.”

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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