AN OPTIMUM trade deficit in farm and food commodities will not be reached by 2004, according to Jaromír Košin, general director of the agriculture, food industry and trade section at the Agriculture Ministry. While the ideal figure is Sk7 billion, Košin said: "In my opinion it is realistic to reduce the trade deficit to a level of Sk12 billion or Sk13 billion in 2003."
In 2001, Slovakia's farm and food trade deficit stood at Sk20.3 billion, one-third of all agricultural turnover and 19.6 per cent of Slovakia's total foreign trade deficit. The Agriculture Ministry is proposing protective measures and extra customs duties to address the situation.
The ministry would also like to see the portion of Slovak foods on supermarket shelves increase on the domestic market. "We will negotiate with the British management of Tesco retail chain in Slovakia on increasing sales promotion of Slovak food products," said Košin, adding that the ministry will initiate similar negotiations with other retail chains operating in Slovakia. Slovak food products currently make up around 70 per cent of the domestic market, a figure the ministry would like to see between 85 and 90 per cent.