IN SHORT

2005 foreign trade deficit soars

SLOVAKIA's foreign trade deficit in 2005 was Sk74.3 billion (€1.98 billion), some Sk29.7 billion higher than in 2004, the Slovak Statistics Bureau reported on February 10.

Total exports increased by 11.5 percent year-on year to Sk991.6 billion, but imports shot up 14.1 percent to Sk1.1 trillion. In December alone, the foreign trade deficit was Sk25.2 billion, or Sk15.2 billion higher than in December 2004. The December 2005 figure set an all-time monthly high for the national trade deficit.

"The previous record was in December 2001 at Sk15.9 billion. Even if the figures do not exactly correspond, due to the different methodology used, there is no doubt that the previous record high was exceeded," ČSOB bank analyst Marek Gábriš told the TASR news agency.

With foreign trade details unavailable for the moment, Gábriš ascribed the December deficit to imports of investor technologies, a trend that should continue into January and February 2006.

Slovenská sporiteľňa bank analyst Mária Fehérová said she expected the foreign trade figures to improve in 2006 after the country's new carmakers, Peugeot-Citroen and Kia, launch their export-oriented production.

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