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SLOVAKIA


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 31,868 23,700 20,500 59
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,920 3,950 3,760 73
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 117 - (22/02/07)

Slovakia bestrides the world stage
The Slovaks can hardly believe their new situation in the world. 
Fifteen years ago they did not even have a country, being the junior partner in Czechoslovakia, which itself only eluded the embrace of communism and the Warsaw Pact in 1989. 
Now Slovakia has assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this year. This has given it a prime opportunity to open up closer relations with the coming colossus of the world economy, which ironically still remains formally communist, the People's Republic of China. As former comrades the Slovaks have a special understanding of the Chinese predicament here.

The Bratislava-Beijing axis
Dialogue and cooperation are key concepts in the relationship between Slovakia and China, said the Slovak prime minister on February 6th on arriving in Beijing. "It is our task and responsibility to support the strategic relationship between the European Union (EU) and China," said Robert Fico, whose country is now a member of the EU as well. 
"Genuine partnership between China and the EU is crucial for global stability and sustainable development in a multi-polar world," Fico told China Daily in an exclusive interview at the Slovak embassy in Beijing. Fico also said the shared views between the two countries, such as on the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) offer more chances to work together. 
Fico said joining the European Union was a wise and historic step for his country. The experience of Slovakia showed that membership of the EU is beneficial. "That's why I appreciate China's position of supporting the integration of other countries into the union," he said. "A country in the union means stability in the region. That is why countries such as Croatia and other States in the Balkans should be adopted by this organization as soon as possible." 
Fico said he appreciated China's call for the establishment of a harmonious society both at home and abroad. "Slovakia is among the countries that support solving all problems and tensions, first of all, by dialogue and negotiation, not by using arms immediately," Fico said. "Slovakia withdrew soldiers from Iraq because we believe the problems in Iraq should be solved in a completely different way." Bratislava and Beijing certainly see eye-to-eye here.
Then followed the usual bromides appropriate for the occasion. In a world plagued by violence, the idea of establishing a harmonious society focused on respect, understanding and sharing, "should be welcomed by the international community", he said. "From the perspective of stability and security we recognize the unique position and influence of China, and we would like to continue our good cooperation with China as a trusted partner and responsible international player through various forums, including our common UNSC membership." 

Economic issues 
Fico said economic issues were at the top of his cabinet's agenda, which was one of the reasons he was visiting China. "I believe that my visit to China will contribute significantly to the economic dimension of foreign policy between Slovakia and China." 
Chinese-Slovak economic cooperation has been growing in recent years. Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that the trade volume between China and Slovakia amounted to US$913.68 million last year, up 85.9 per cent from the year before. 
Slovak exports to China were worth US$220 million last year, almost twice as much as in 2005, according to statistics provided by Slovak Embassy in Beijing. By contrast they were worth only US$4 million in 1998. 
Slovakia exports metallurgical products, raw materials, chemical products and healthcare technology to China. It imports Chinese textiles and garments, leather products and household appliances. 
"There is room for Slovak exporters to enhance their commercial relations with their Chinese partners in such fields as road construction, electrical equipment technologies for oil and gas equipment," Fico said. 

Impressive growth 
Slovakia's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 7.9 per cent last year. 
Fico said he expected that impressive growth to continue into this year. "The year of 2007 can be the most successful year in the history of Slovakia from an economic point of view," he said.

Invitation to invest 
Fico said he would like to see more Chinese high-tech firms invest in his country. "We certainly support the interest of some Chinese companies to start or increase their business activities in Slovakia in high value-added industry." 
At a business forum, Fico invited Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Slovakia, promising to provide favourable tax policies and a sound investment environment. The Czech Republic has so far attracted far more Chinese investment than Slovakia. But FDI into the latter is growing massively, with Slovakia becoming known as the Detroit of Europe.
Fico was on a five-day visit to China, his first since he took office in September, and his fifth since 1999. He compared his experiences of Shanghai in 2001 and 2003 and said he was surprised. "I could not follow Shanghai in these two years," he said. "So I can only congratulate China for what people are doing in this country." 
Fico said people in Slovakia did not have much information about China, and highlighted the need to organize more exchanges of people, especially in the form of tourism. "My experiences in China are fantastic, and I will be a messenger of good news from China to Slovakia," he said.

The Bratislava-Brussels axis
Closer to home Slovakia is already receiving vital support, namely from Brussels.
The European Commission (EC) is ready to financially support Slovakia in its upcoming educational campaign for the adoption of the euro in 2009, Jn Figel, Slovak EU commissioner for education, said on Feb. 5. The EC might cover up to half of the campaign's costs, he added. 
"Since January the EC has been ready to help Slovakia with its communication strategy. We view it as our common interest, a very important part of the preparation [for euro adoption]," Figel said. The campaign to inform the public about the changeover from the Slovak crown to the euro should cost 5.4 million Euro (Kc 152 million), according to Slovak National Bank Governor (SNB) Ivan ramko. 
Communicating to the public is one of the areas in which Slovakia has lagged behind in its euro adoption efforts, the Slovak Ministry of Finance said in a report to the government. Slovakia has so far failed to choose an advertising agency to run the information campaign, and a special Internet page focusing on euro adoption hasn't been launched yet. The ministry said it was certain Slovakia would manage to cope with the delay.
The previous government of Prime Minister Mikul Dzurinda agreed on 2009 as the year Slovakia would introduce the euro. The current Cabinet of Prime Minister Robert Fico has supported the planned date, though Fico's Smer party questioned it before the June 2006 general elections.
Figel repeated the EC's previous statement that Slovakia should use its current steep economic growth to improve its macroeconomic results in order to create a bigger reserve for fulfilling the euro adoption criteria. For the time being Slovakia has all prerequisites to meet the year 2009 as its euro adoption deadline, Figel said. 

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AUTOMOBILES

PSA signs collective agreement with employees


The management of the Trnava-based car plant PSA Peugeot Citroen Slovakia signed a collective agreement for 2007-2009 with the company's KOVO trade union representatives recently, New Europe reported. 
"The two parties agreed on a seven-per cent average wage growth this year. The company pledged itself to create a social fund amounting to approximately 15 million Slovak crowns in 2007, which will be preferably used for meal benefits, health care, and recreation of employees," the head of the PSA communication department, Peter Svec, said. According to Svec, the number of produced cars will correspond with the market demands. He specified that over 51,000 cars rolled off the production lines during the gradual onset of serial production and two-shift operation. The factory launched serial production in June 2006. Current daily output is almost 700 vehicles.

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

IT investments exceed US$1bn in 2006

An analysis carried out by IDC, an international IT market research company, reported that investments in information technologies (IT) exceeded US$ one billion in Slovakia in 2006, an 11 per cent increase from the US$980 million recorded in 2005, Slovak Spectator reported recently.
The survey showed that high economic growth in Slovakia in 2006 along with privatisation sales and foreign direct investments boosted spending on both basic and advanced IT products and equipment. "IT services took the top spot on Slovakia's IT market, and are currently producing higher revenues than servers, data storage systems, and computers put together," said IDC analyst, Arun Chandramohan. On a sectoral basis, the survey revealed that the biggest IT investments in 2006 were made by the communications sector, followed by the government and banks. 

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

T-Mobile Slovensko expects record results for 2006

Based on preliminary data, Telecommunications Company T-Mobile Slovensko achieved record results for 2006 from the viewpoint of total revenues and EBITDA, and it ended the year with 2.2 million customers, New Europe recently. 
The share of post-paid customers increased to 44 per cent of the client base, the company informed. 
According to estimates of T-Mobile Slovensko, its market share at the end of last year was 45 per cent. 
Market penetration by September 30th 2006 was 87 per cent when two operators in the mobile telecommunications market in Slovakia, Orange and T-Mobile together had 4.679 million customers. However, both operators are using different methodology for reporting the number of active customers, which also influences market share estimates.

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