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Building the Baltic Sea Region through investment and trade, 1989-2009

Working paper
Authors Mikael Olsson
Richard Nakamura
Mikael Lönnborg
Publisher Södertörns högskola
Place of publication Huddinge
Publication year 2017
Published at Centre for International Business Studies
Department of Business Administration, Management & Organisation
Language en
Keywords Economic integration, region building, Baltic Sea Region; trade flows, foreign direct investment, European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, economic transition
Subject categories Business Administration, Economic History


Some twenty years after the fall of the communist dictatorships that divided the European continent the European Union in late 2009 adopted its first ever macroregional strategy – the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The strategy was a symbolic second milestone with regard to the political endeavours to reintegrate the continent; the first being the 2004 enlargement. Having transformed the Baltic Sea from a Mare Dividum to a European Mare Nostrum is indeed also a sign of the success of such integrative political processes. However, at the same time the perceived need for a specific strategy in order to further and deepen the integration and reduce the economic gaps within the European Union gives an indication that there is more to be wished for with regard to this region. It has been suggested that regionalism is defined “as an economic process whereby economic flows grow more rapidly among a given group of states [in the same region] than between these states and those located elsewhere”. In this paper we thus approach the economic underpinnings for the Baltic Sea Region by analysing the developments with regard to investment and trade flows during the last twenty years. We ask ourselves whether these developments are in congruence with the notion of the building of one integrated region and whether it makes economic sense to talk about a Baltic Sea Region? For example, to what extent have the developments with regard to foreign direct investments proved sustainable? What sectors are leading the way and which are lagging? What divisions remain to be tackled? These are some of the questions that this paper attempts to address based upon a thorough analysis of the existing sources with regard to trade and investment flows.

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