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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Export efficiency continues to decrease

The export efficiency of the Slovak economy continued to decrease in the third quarter of 1998. Unlike in previous quarters, demand for imports decreased as well, halting the widening gap between exports and imports and lowering the trade balance deficit to 10.26% of GDP.

Preliminary data from the Slovak Statistics Bureau indicate that the share of exports on GDP dropped in the third quarter to their lowest level in 1998: 50.77%. Exports in the third quarter equaled 95.252 billion Sk, while GDP totaled 187.6 billion Sk during this period. In the first quarter, export efficiency was 52.02%, dropping to 51.47% in the second quarter. In total, exports accounted for 51.40 percent of the GDP in the first nine months.

In the first and second quarters of 1998, the economy's demand for imports equaled 62.58% and 62.67% of GDP respectively. The third quarter witnessed a drop to 59.86%. The drop in demand for imports in all probability will not be repeated in the last quarter of 1998, because imports in October posted a record level of 43.625 billion Sk, boosting the trade balance deficit to 11 billion Sk in that month alone.

The trade gap, at 54.915 billion Sk, was 10.26% of GDP in the first nine months of 1998. Compared with mid-year figures, this means a slight improvement over June's 10.89%. This year will be the third consecutive year in which Slovakia reports a trade gap of over 10% of GDP. Analysts are forecasting a trade deficit of over 75 billion Sk by the end of the year.

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