BUSINESS IN SHORT

Trade balance started 2008 in the black

SLOVAKIA's foreign trade started this year with almost the same results as last. The Slovak Statistics Office revealed on March 13 the preliminary results of the January trade balance, which ended in a surplus of Sk6.6 billion (€203 miilion). Compared with January 2007 this is an increase of Sk0.6 billion, the SITA newswire wrote. The January 2008 figure is better than the market had expected; predictions had been more than Sk2 billion lower.

SLOVAKIA's foreign trade started this year with almost the same results as last. The Slovak Statistics Office revealed on March 13 the preliminary results of the January trade balance, which ended in a surplus of Sk6.6 billion (€203 miilion). Compared with January 2007 this is an increase of Sk0.6 billion, the SITA newswire wrote. The January 2008 figure is better than the market had expected; predictions had been more than Sk2 billion lower.

"Behind the positive foreign trade result in January is most likely chiefly the strong export of passenger cars, as well as of machinery and equipment," said ČSOB analyst Marek Gábriš.

In the first month of this year, the growth pace of both exports and imports increased. In January, the growth rate for exports reached 16.4 percent year-on-year. However, imports surprised by coming in higher by 17.6 percent year-on-year in the first month of 2008.

"Imports have again started growing faster than exports after the last four-month period," VÚB analyst Martin Lenko told SITA. According to him, the foreign trade balance should also remain positive in February. "We estimate that the surplus in February reached Sk2.2 billion."

The Statistics Office also revised upwards its assessment of the trade deficit for 2007. After revision, the total cumulative deficit for 2007 reached Sk21.4 billion, compared to the previous figure of Sk19.7 billion. The market does not view this new figure negatively.

"It is still a positive result. Last year, trade deficit fell from 4.5 percent of GDP in 2006 to 1.15 percent of GDP," said Gábriš.

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