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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Slovak-French trade turnover 4.1 billion crowns in 1Q99

According to figures from the Slovak Economy Ministry, the turnover of Slovak-French trade equaled 4.1 billion Slovak crowns ($96.4 million) in the first quarter of 1999, up 3% in comparison with the same period last year. Turnover in mutual trade was 17.7 billion crowns for the full year.

France is the sixth largest exporter to Slovakia, and is the seventh largest importer of Slovak products. Slovakia's main exports to France are cars, machinery and iron and steel products; these three categories account for approximately half of Slovakia's total exports to France.

In the realm of imports, French cars, followed by audio and video equipment and machinery, make up the main goods brought into Slovakia.

France also ranks among the most significant investors in Slovakia. Cumulative French investments totaled 3.8 billion crowns by October 1998, or 6.9% of total Slovak foreign investment. The best-known French projects include mobile phone network operator Globtel GSM, which was established in 1997 under the leadership of France Telecom. Chemical company Rhone Poulenc, which became the owner of Slovak chemicals firm Chemlon Humenne in October 1998, is also among the most successful French investors in Slovakia. Other French investors include Alcatel (which has a stake in Tesla Liptovský Hradok), computer company Bull (ZVT Banska Bystrica) and Generale Sucriere (the Juhocukor sugar mill in Dunajská Streda).

Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda made his first official visit to France on May 4-5, accompanied by Economy Minister Ľudovít Černák and Telecom Minister Gabriel Palacka. The three met with French Foreign Trade Minister Jačques Dondoux to discuss broadening trade relations and investment opportunities between the two countries.

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