SACC-USA Welcomes Swedish Ambassador Björn Lyrvall

September 30, 2013

Ambassador Björn LyrvallSACC-USA is proud to welcome Björn to the United States. Even if he has only been here for a short time, he has been involved in a number of SACC events, including the SACC Summit 2013. In order to present Ambassador Lyrvall, we asked him a few questions.

Welcome to Washington Ambassador Lyrvall! How do you like your new mission and city so far?

It’s been a wonderful few weeks – full of activities that show the scope and depth of Swedish-American relations. Never a dull moment – challenging, relevant and fun. We like Washington, both the focus on policy you find here, but also the green creeks and parks. Quite exotic actually.

Please let us know a bit more about your background:   Where were you stationed before coming to DC? Which are your particular areas of interests?

I was raised and went to school in Borlänge, Dalarna, which in many ways still is “home”, although I’ve spent 27 years in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs – primarily in Europe dealing with crisis management and political transitions.  For close to seven years I was witnessing the break up of the Soviet Union through posts in Leningrad and Moscow. I spent many years in the Balkans, helping FM Carl Bildt to broker peace in Bosnia and Hercegovina, and later five years in Brussels, negotiation EU enlargement and building a European capacity to act on the world stage. I also worked at the Swedish Trade Council at one point in time – helping to reestablish links with the Baltic Republics. Any time off I like to spend with my family – my wife Madeleine, kids Anna (14), Mimmi (13) and Fredrik (10). We’ve got a little dog, Melvin. I like skiing, running – but don’t do enough of that.

What would you like to achieve during your posting in the US?

Relations between Sweden  and the US are currently on a high, and it’s my privilege to continue to promote and strengthen these relations in all fields – trade, culture, political affairs to mention some. Among the most important issues will be the negotiations of an EU-US Free Trade Agreement, the TTIP, where I think Sweden has a lot to contribute. I’d also like to follow up on the  successful “Nordic Cool” festival. And – there is needless to say a USA outside of the Beltway. I’ll try to reach out to reinforce bonds with other parts of this great country.

We are so grateful for your and the embassy’s involvement in SACC Summit last week. What are your reflections after this introduction to the SACC network?

 It was my pleasure to meet this vast and impressive network early on during my tenure here in Washington. Good to meet all dedicated people working for Swedish-American business relations and to get perspectives from different parts of the country.

What are the important tasks for SACC  and similar organizations and networks in order to contribute to successful  trade and commerce relations between the two countries?

To bring people together, increase understanding, engage i match making, spread information, be ambassadors on the spot.

How do you think the TTIP agreement might benefit trade between Sweden and the U.S. going forward? What can our members do to support this process?

I think all surveys show that the TTIP will be greatly beneficial for the average American and European. It’s a win/win situation. We should equip ourselves with arguments why this negotiation is important, what it will do to renew and develop the Transatlantic partnership. Business and government will need to work hand in hand. There will be difficulties that will require political change.

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