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Slovakia beats China for Sperian factory

AT A TIME when major manufacturing operations are moving from Europe to Asia, the French company Sperian is moving to Slovakia from China, the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily wrote on September 25.

Sperian's new plant, which will produce materials for protective goggles, will be in Partizánske in the Trenčín Region. Sperian already operates a production unit in Partizánske, but it has only used imported materials for its manufacturing so far.

The French company was forced to leave China and its cheap labour due to the low quality of production and complications with transportation and logistics.

The reversed flow of capital has surprised economists, who say it's an exception that proves the rule.

"Such cases can happen from time to time," analyst Robert Prega of Tatra Banka told the daily. "This is because many companies in China are still struggling not only with the question of quality, but also with meeting ecological standards, occupational safety rules and other requirements."

So far Slovakia has been losing the fight for investments with China. For example, American luggage producer Samsonite moved from the eastern Slovak town of Šamorín to China.

Analyst Mário Blaščák of Allianz-Slovenská DSS said the trend doesn't have to last, and there might be problems with producing more technically-demanding products in China.

"The case of Sperian shows that Slovakia is able to compete with China, not only from the viewpoint of wages, but it also has the highest labour productivity in the region and it is able to manufacture at the high-quality level," Blaščák said.

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