ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Changes to new import surcharge as of August 25

Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová planned to amend the import surcharge by August 20 to exempt from the 7% duty machines and equipment, some foodstuffs, and raw materials destined for the chemical industry and for the production of medicines. The amendment was to take effect on August 25.

The decision followed August 17 talks between Schmögnerová, Economy Minister Ľudovít Černák, and Health Minister Tibor Šagát.

Some raw materials, specifically wrapping materials for the production of medicines, will not be released from the surcharge until June 30, 2000, in line with the government's intention to force some companies to replace imported products with domestic.

The government raised the import surcharge from zero to seven percent as of June 1, and ruled that it would be lowered to 5% as of January 1, 2000 and phased out completely by the beginning of 2001. The surcharge applies to 70% of all imported goods.

A Slovak delegation will defend the reintroduction of the import surcharge at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva on September 20 and 21. As a WTO member, Slovakia is obliged to consult this restrictive measure with the WTO within four months of its imposition.

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