DESPITE the differences in the economic development between Denmark and Slovakia, both countries are similar in size as well as population, and both have open economies. Relations between the two countries remain healthy, with plenty of room for more cooperation in mutual trade or investments.

President Ivan Gašparovič, when receiving Danish Ambassador to Slovakia Christian Konigsfeldt at the inauguration visit in early September, said that Slovak-Danish relations are traditionally excellent, which was proven by his visit to Denmark in 2012.

“We are pleased by the fact that Denmark is for Slovakia the 19th most important export market and the 16th biggest investor in Slovakia,” said President Gašparovič, as cited by the TASR newswire.

Steen Pedersen, the vice-consul at the Danish Embassy in Bratislava, specified for The Slovak Spectator that based on their information, more than 50 Danish companies dealing with production, services and sales, and farming operate in Slovakia. Together they employ approximately 13,000 people in Slovakia.

“The interest in terms of new investments in Slovakia has remained relatively stable over the last two-three years,” said Pedersen.

Richard Dírer from the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO), citing data from the Dun & Bradstreet database, said that there are 105 companies whose parent companies are from Denmark.

SARIO has registered a drop in interest from Danish investors over the last few years, yet Dírer added that Danish investors do inquire about other markets. In Slovakia they required the most information about investment opportunities in Slovakia, as well as about state aid and the country’s business and investment environment.

SARIO cooperates with the Slovak Embassy to Denmark to lure Danish investors to Slovakia, and this cooperation has already resulted in the successful launch of several investment projects.

“Representatives of SARIO presented Slovakia in 2011 at a conference [called] ‘New Market Opportunities in Slovakia’, organised by the Confederation of Danish Industry in cooperation with the Slovak Embassy in Copenhagen,” said Dírer.

Moreover, in 2011 and later in 2012 and 2013, SARIO representatives participated in the ‘Visit and Invest in Slovakia’ seminar for Danish investors contemplating investing in Slovakia.

According to Dírer, Danish investors were especially interested in the sectors of the production of clothes and leather products as well as in the manufacturing of products from rubber and plastics.

SARIO’s efforts have helped attract Danish investments worth almost €243.3 million within 21 projects since the organisation was created in 2002. Over 2,970 jobs were created while investments went especially into the sectors of furniture and wood product manufacturing, the manufacturing of machines and technologies, and shared services centres and call centres.

The biggest Danish investment registered by SARIO in Slovakia so far is Velux, which manufactures doors and windows in Partizánske.

Footwear producer Ecco is another significant Danish investor in Slovakia. The company opened a plant in Martin in 1998 as a green-field project, and it was one of the first Danish investments in Slovakia. Ecco’s Martin plant is one of five located outside Denmark, and it employs roughly 1,300 people. The plant in Martin closed out 2012 with a net profit of almost €1.5 million, a 3.7 million drop from 2011, the SITA newswire wrote in June.

Other companies with Danish links include Dan Slovakia Agrar in Veľký Meder, Glunz & Jensen in Prešov, Knudsen Plast in Vranov nad Topľou, Blika in Trebišov, Monarflex in Štúrovo, Nissens in Čachtice, Sauer – Danfoss in Považská Bystrica, and Slavia Tools in Detva.

Tytex Slovakia in Humenné, Convatec (Unomedical) in Michalovce, DSV Slovakia in Senec, Falck Záchranná in Bratislava, ISS Facility Services in Bratislava, and Marius Pedersen in Trenčín have also links to Denmark.

Aggregate direct foreign investments from Danish businesses in Slovakia amounted to almost €268.5 million in 2010, while preliminary figures from 2011 put them at €271.3 million, the statistics of the National Bank of Slovakia showed.

Trade

Slovakia has maintained a positive trade balance with Denmark, and in 2012 0.9 percent of its total exports went to Denmark. As for imports, Denmark accounted for 0.4 percent of Slovakia’s total imports, according to the Slovak Statistics Office.

Slovakia’s exports to Denmark have developed in waves. They decreased from €424 million in 2008 to €306 million in 2009, and €316 million in 2010. In 2011 exports increased to €383 million and continued to grow in 2012 to €537 million, an increase of over 40 percent year-on-year.

Denmark’s exports to Slovakia decreased from €216 million in 2008 to €194 million in 2009. It maintained a similar level, €201 million in 2010, which increased to €230 million in 2011 and €222 million in 2012. The trade balance was the biggest in 2012, at €315 million, while trade was the most balanced in 2009 when it was €112 million. Between January and August 2013, Slovakia exported to Denmark goods and services worth €372 million, while imports totalled €135 million, leaving bilateral trade with a positive balance for Slovakia of €237 million.

Pedersen specified for The Slovak Spectator that while exports from Denmark to Slovakia increased in two-digit percentages in 2010 and 2011, it shrank by 11.9 percent in 2012, based on data of the Danish Statistical Office and Economist Intelligence Unit. The estimate for 2013 is that the decrease of Danish exports to Slovakia would slow to 1.4 percent, while for 2014 a 10.5-percent increase is expected.

Based on data from 2012, the category of machines and transport dominates Denmark’s exports to Slovakia, at 41 percent, followed by pharmaceuticals and chemicals (20 percent), semi manufactured products (16 percent), end products (14 percent), foodstuffs (6 percent) and energy and raw materials (3 percent).