Swedish Government to Close Guangzhou Consulate by November

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Jul. 29 – The Swedish government has announced the closure of their consulate in Guangzhou by November 30 along with one embassy and three other consulates-general due to budgetary constraints.

On July 23, the government said on its website that they would close Sweden’s Embassy in Colombo and the Swedish Consulates-General in Guangzhou, Kaliningrad, Los Angeles and New York. That leaves Sweden with its Embassy in Beijing as its main diplomatic and commercial contact for the country.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt said in a statement: “When I took office as Minister for Foreign Affairs in autumn 2006, the Ministry had a budget deficit of over SEK50 million. The deficit had been built up over several years and the previous government maintained activities that had no financing. ”

He added, “Of course it is an untenable position to be pushing this deficit in front of us. We must ensure that we have an effective and professional Foreign Service within the existing budgetary framework. With these changes, we will balance the budget and at the same time renew working methods.”

The move to close to the consulates was protested, according to the Consul-General, ‘‘by supporters, Swedish companies, chambers, friendship provinces and cities, as well as some Chinese concerned, however efforts to make the government come to a different decision have been in vain.”

The decision highlights the harsh economic conditions that seem likely to prevail in Europe and also, to a lesser extent, demonstrates the large reversal of trade and export that Guangdong Province had until recently been producing.

The province, of which Guangzhou is the capital, is home to export driven manufacturers and foreign investors, and many of them have experienced serious difficulties during the economic downturn.

The notice by the Swedish government to close it’s consulate in Guangzhou may signal a short-term trend of foreign governments looking to cut costs by reducing multiple missions in one country.