ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Slovakia's foreign trade gap down 53% year-on-year

The deficit of Slovakia's foreign trade balance was 2.584 billion Sk ($64.6 million) in January, down 53% year-on-year from 5.540 billion Sk ($132 million) in January 1998. Preliminary data provided by Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová at a press conference on February 22 indicate that imports declined 4% while exports swelled 7% in January 1999 when compared with January 1998.

Schmögnerová ascribed this improvement to the economic measures taken by the cabinet. She cited a 956.9 million Sk ($23.9 million) drop in car imports in January from 1.818 billion Sk a year earlier, and attributed the decline to a revision of the income tax law that narrowed a tax loophole allowing people to write off the purchase of a new car. She admitted that the decrease in car imports could also have been caused by car importers' pre-stocking at the end of 1998.

Schmögnerova said the January results were a significant improvement over December 1998 - imports decreased 28% month-on-month while exports fell only 17%. This means that the January foreign trade gap accounted only for 30% of the December deficit.

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