14:36 GMT +315 December 2019
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    President Donald Trump shares a laugh with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump as they sit in the reviewing stand during Trump's inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Ave. outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017

    Swedish Steel Giant Under Fire for Sponsoring Trump's Inauguration

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    The Swedish steel giant SSAB has been found to have sponsored US President Donald Trump's inauguration, which raised eyebrows in the Nordic country, where Trump has never been popular; the government openly supported his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

    The steel manufacturer, which is partly owned by the Swedish state, donated $10,000 to Trump's inauguration through its US subsidiary, the Swedish tabloid daily Aftonbladet reported.

    SSAB confirmed that the payment was made on February 22 from SSAB Enterprises headquarters in Lisle, Illinois, but maintained that it was not an indicator of the company's political stance or an attempt to side with the controversial US President.

    "SSAB Americas does not take any political stances, but the company is engaged in matters important to the steel industry. That includes trade policy, tax reforms, regulatory changes and infrastructure investments," SSAB wrote in an e-mail to Aftonbladet.

    Incidentally, Trump spoke in his inaugural speech of "rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of the US," and stressed the dire need for improving the country's infrastructure. In his first address to Congress in February, the US president pledged to make major investments in the nation's infrastructure.

    However, SSAB made no secret of its ambition to partake in the US President's infrastructural projects.

    "SSAB Americas already serves the nation's infrastructure by providing steel for bridges, transportation and other structures, and we are likely to continue doing so in the future," SSAB wrote to Aftonbladet.

    Albeit largely symbolic, SSAB's sponsorship of Donald Trump triggered criticism among the Swedish public, where Trump supporters are in the minority. Mats Karlsson, Director of the Foreign Policy Institute and a renowned US Expert, was highly critical of the fact that companies donate money to newly elected decision makers.

    "I am very skeptical about the corporate sponsorship of political parties. It cannot be in Swedish companies' interests to sponsor the global policy that Trump is pursuing. Generally speaking, we need to be incredibly vigilant in the future about the growing proximity between business interests and political agendas. It is an area where a combination of power and money can result in a parallel world to the one democracy is all about," Mats Karlsson told Aftonbladet.

    In total, Donald Trump received a record of 107 million dollars in donations for his presidential inauguration, which is double the previous record of 53 million dollars raised by former US President Barack Obama in 2009.

    SSAB, earlier Svenskt Stål ("Swedish Steel"), is a Swedish-Finnish company, formed in 1978 and specializing manufacturing steel. It features the Swedish state and the Finnish state as its shareholders. Headquartered is in central Stockholm, SAAB has factories in Luleå, Borlänge, Oxelösund and Finspång and produces 3.9 million tons of steel.

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    Donald Trump, Scandinavia, Sweden, United States
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