Scandinavian companies lead U.S. FDI growth

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by Gunilla Girardo – Principal and Sr Director Scandinavian Desk at YER USA


It’s been a great year with tremendous market growth for many of the Scandinavian companies I support in the United States, particularly in automotive, electrification, renewables, energy, chemicals, environmental solutions, industrial automation, defense, medical technology, and biotech.  Many financial experts seem to agree that there is no slowdown in sight for the next couple of years regarding new jobs being created, the sheer size of the U.S. market, and the need for advanced technology in the United States.

Finland, Denmark, and Sweden are among the fastest-growing sources of FDI in the U.S.

Goldman Sachs predicts that the global economy will perform better in 2024 than previously forecasted, with a global GDP growth of 2.6%.  The U.S. market alone is expected to grow by 2.1% compared to 4.8% for China and 0.9% for Europe. The numbers for 2023 are also better than expected. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that real GDP in the United States increased at an annual rate of 4.9 % in the third quarter and 2.1% in the second quarter of 2023.  The growth in the third quarter primarily reflected increases in consumer spending and inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

When looking at the U.S. market, it’s (almost) overwhelming.  With an annual GDP of $25 trillion and a population of over 333 million, the United States is the biggest importer in the world and offers the most attractive consumer and B2B market. The U.S. government is the largest buyer on this planet. The State and Local Government sector has over 90,000 procurement entities issuing 400,000 annual bids, in addition to the even bigger Federal sector with 438 agencies that procure goods and services.

The U.S. market is vast but fragmented. The good thing is that all business is local, no matter how international you are as a company. And that’s the beauty of the 50 United States.  You can start your U.S. expansion just about anywhere, and the opportunities are endless if you know how to navigate the market.


Scandinavian companies are doing very well over here. In fact, they are among the fastest-growing sources of FDI in the U.S. Finland is the 2nd fastest, Denmark is in 4th place, and Sweden is the 6th fastest-growing foreign direct investor in the U.S.

I took a closer look at some of my clients’ industries, and here’s what I found.


Manufacturing is returning to the U.S., attracting $2.1 trillion in FDI.

The injection of federal funds and the country’s ongoing shift toward renewable energy have helped spark the beginning of a “manufacturing boom” over here. The United States has experienced a striking surge in construction spending for manufacturing facilities. Real manufacturing construction spending has doubled since the end of 2021.  The boom is mainly driven by construction for computer, electronic, and electrical manufacturing—a relatively small share of manufacturing construction over the past few decades but now a dominant component. The surge comes in a supportive policy environment for manufacturing construction: the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS Act provide direct funding and tax incentives for public and private manufacturing construction.


Chemical industry

The Chemical industry is one of the United States’ largest manufacturing industries, serving both a large domestic market and a growing global market. It is also one of the top exporting sectors of U.S. manufacturing, totaling $208 billion worth of chemicals in 2019. Over 15% of the world’s chemicals come from the U.S. The industry’s more than 13,000 firms produce 70,000+ products. Total FDI in the industry was $821.2 billion in 2020.



Attracting $142.2 billion in FDI, the United States has one of the largest automotive markets in the world. In 2020, U.S. light vehicle sales totaled 14.5 million units. The biggest production states are CA, IN, OH, TX, TN, and SC. Sweden is the 8th largest FDI in the automotive industry, having invested in 34 greenfield projects between 2011 and 2021. |



$2 trillion has been set aside in budgetary resources for DoD, of which more than $800 billion in obligations so far this year. There are immediate opportunities to improve supply chain stability, drive affordability in materials, and improve efficiency and predictability across operations. The most influential military technologies will include artificial intelligence, advanced defense equipment, and robotics and autonomous systems. The U.S. aerospace industry is the largest in the world, attracting $20.6 Billion in FDI.



Agriculture, food, and related industries contributed $1.1 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.  There is $22.3 Billion in FDI. Norway is number 9 on the FDI list, with 5 greenfield projects between 2012 and 2022.


Biopharmaceutical and Life Sciences

Totaling $1.4 trillion, the U.S. is the largest market for biopharmaceuticals, accounting for around a third of the global market, and is the world leader in biopharmaceutical R&D. According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), biopharmaceutical firms spent about $97 billion on R&D in the U.S. in 2017 – more than any other industry. The overall economic impact of the biopharmaceutical industry on the U.S. economy is substantial. In 2018, over $17 billion in biopharmaceutical exports were from majority foreign-owned firms operating in the United States. Foreign direct investment totaled $647.1 billion in 2021.

Energy Industry

Including renewables, energy efficiency, electric transmission, smart grid, battery storage, distributed utilities, and O&G, attracted $203 B in FDI in 2021. Denmark is the 8th on the list of FDI, with a total of 32 greenfield projects between 2011 and 2022. Growing consumer demand and world-class innovation – combined with a competitive workforce and supply chain capable of building, installing, and servicing all energy technologies – make the United States one of the world’s most attractive markets.


Environmental Technology

The United States is the single largest market for environmental technologies in the world, representing a quarter of the $1.2 trillion global market. According to Environmental Business International, approximately 114,000 enterprises make up the industry. In 2019, the total U.S. market was estimated at $354 billion, with approximately 55% from services, 21% from equipment, and 24% from resources. The U.S. environmental technology industry has undergone significant restructuring and consolidation but has experienced growth over the past 15 years. Change of ownership and structure within the environmental industry is expected to continue, particularly in the water sector, where gaps in infrastructure investment offer significant growth and investment opportunities.


Logistics & Supply Chain

Logistics & Supply Chainattracts $6.4 B in FDI.  Norway is the 6th largest FDI with 9 greenfield investments (2012 – 2022), and Denmark is number 9 on the list of FDI with 8 greenfield projects between 2012 and 2022.


While all these investments are happening, it’s still a very competitive candidates’ market over here in the U.S., with 9.6 million current job openings and unemployment at 3.9%. Partnering with YER-USA for your talent acquisition needs will ensure that your company stands out from the crowd to attract and retain your needed talent. YER-USA is a U.S.-based recruiting firm with more than 30 years in the industry. We specialize in supporting European companies in the U.S. Book a meeting with us today to discuss your goals for the U.S.


Interested in learning more about where your industry is concentrated in the United States? Here’s a great Cluster Mapping tool that provides over 50 million open data records on industry clusters and regional business environments in the U.S.