First Mayor of Hamburg,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is always a great pleasure for me and the Queen to visit Germany, and on this occasion a privilege to stay in Hamburg to celebrate the Swedish Chamber of Commerce.
I understand well the choice of the Chamber to celebrate its 50th anniversary in this city. Here, a wonderful atmosphere, good entertainment and perfect cuisine is provided.
Hamburg is a typical Hanseatic city, like Stockholm, Visby and Kalmar used to be. For more than 800 years these cities were part of an economic network around the Baltic Sea. One can reflect on how long the Hanseatic League existed: an excellent example of peaceful cooperation.
Today, Hamburg is one of the most vital economic regions in Germany. In the past year we have experienced economic crisis in Europe and the rest of the world, but trade and industry in Hamburg show strength, and this includes the Swedish companies in the region. There are more than 40 affiliated Swedish companies in Hamburg operating in various fields. They provide a keen competition to other international companies that also have settled in Hamburg.
Sweden's business relations with Germany are a real success story. We export more goods and services to Germany than to any other country in the world. We also import more from Germany than from any other country. Today, about 700 affiliated Swedish companies operate on the German market and employ 138 000 people.
Most of the Swedish companies are members of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. The chamber functions as a hub for these companies. It lobbies for their interests in Germany and provides an exchange of ideas and experience for Swedish businessmen and - women.
The Swedish export award was initiated by the Chamber of Commerce in 2003 and Crown Princess Victoria was the guest of honor. At that time, as well as today, the award was given here in Hamburg. Of course, it is a great pleasure for me and the Queen to continue this tradition.
Many people associate the words "Chamber of Commerce" with middle-aged, grey-haired gentlemen. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, retirement age is increasing in every country. But tonight, I can see many young men and women among us. This is due to the JCC, the Junior Chamber Club, which brings fresh blood to the Chamber for the next 50 years. That is very gratifying.
At your celebration in 1984, I said we will try to come back in twenty-five years' time, and here we are! Although, now I dare not promise another twenty-five... Let's say in ten years time!