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IN SHORT BUSINESS

Gross foreign debt at $18 billion

Slovakia's gross foreign debt totalled $18.32 billion (€15.12 billion) last December - up $1.34 billion (€1.1 billion) from November 2003. The country's long-term foreign debt rose in December by $386.6 million (€319 billion) to $10.29 billion (€8.49 billion), the SITA news wire reported.

Short-term foreign debt over the same period increased by $951.2 million (€784.9 million) to $8.03 billion (€6.63 billion).

Slovakia's foreign debt mainly increased due to the euro's firming against the US dollar, an increase in official short-term liabilities, and higher debt in the commercial sector, said the National Bank of Slovakia.

The long-term debts of the Slovak government and the central bank increased in December by $256.4 million (€211.6 million), on a slight increase in the commercial sector's debt.

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