ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Government expects 1999 trade deficit of 85 billion Sk

Prelimary figures for the 1998 trade deficit place it at 80 billion Sk, the Slovak Statistics Office said Jan 27. The cabinet, meanwhile, expects that this figure could climb to 85 billion Sk once the final trade results are calculated.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ivan Mikloš pointed out that low oil prices on the world market as well as the extraordinary export performance of carmaker Volkswagen Bratislava prevented the 1998 trade gap from exceeding 100 billion Sk. Also keeping the rate slightly lower than in previous years was the fact that in the first ten months of 1998, Slovakia's oil imports cost 10 billion Sk less than in the same period of the previous year.

This is the third consecutive year of that the trade deficit has exceeded 10% of the GDP. Mikloš pointed out the need for long-term capital investments into the Slovak economy, but agreed that the increasing caution of foreign investors towards emerging markets could be problematic in this respect. This is the reason why it is essential to return to the first group of countries running for EU membership as well as to join the OECD, Mikloš added.

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