Belgian investments make their mark

SMALLER in size and with almost double the population of Slovakia, Belgium has made its presence felt in Slovakia. While Slovakia has been more successful in exporting its goods and services to this country, Belgian investments to Slovakia are increasing.

SMALLER in size and with almost double the population of Slovakia, Belgium has made its presence felt in Slovakia. While Slovakia has been more successful in exporting its goods and services to this country, Belgian investments to Slovakia are increasing.

“The interest of investors has increased over the last year,” Richard Dírer from the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) told The Slovak Spectator. “Belgian investors are exploring new markets, especially to the extent that they are looking for new clients, and along with this they are also extending their production to these markets.”

The biggest Belgian investment in Slovakia registered so far by SARIO is Bekaert, which produces steel wire for car tyres. The firm has two plants in Slovakia: in Hlohovec and Sládkovičovo, and it has operated here since 2000.

Other Belgian investments in Slovakia have included Aspel, ČSOB financial group, EIC Group, Plastiflex, Dhollandia and Deltrian.

Direct foreign investments from Belgium to Slovakia amounted to €1.4 billion at the end of 2012, while the year of 2013 brought an inflow of €8.5 billion, based on the preliminary data of the National Bank of Slovakia.

Earlier this year some Belgian companies announced expansion. Deltrian Slovakia, which currently operates in Veľký Slavkov, wants to extend its production and move to Kežmarok, the Prešovský Denník Korzár daily wrote in early November. Kežmarok has sold three hectares of land to the Belgian company. In Slovakia, Deltrian produces filters for ventilation systems.

Deltrian did not hide its expansion plans in the past, while its expansion was enabled by the 5-6 percent annual growth of the ventilation systems market, the Hospodárske Noviny daily wrote in June.

The company already employs about 120 people in Veľký Slavkov, according to the SITA newswire.

The expansion of Deltrian is good news for the district of Kežmarok placing on the highest rankings in Slovakia’s unemployment. In 2013 it reported the third highest unemployment rate of 32 percent. The expansion might bring 60 new work positions, Hospodárske Noviny wrote.

Another company, which plans to expand in Slovakia, is hydraulic tail lift manufacturer Dhollandia. It plans to invest roughly €6 million into a new unit for surface finishing in the district of Bytča, SITA wrote in August. The proposed facility for surface finishing technologically connects to Dhollandia’s production of lift platforms for various types of trucks, the company wrote in its investment plan submitted for the environmental impact assessment.

Slovakia has been reporting a trade surplus with Belgium when the former’s export is almost double of the latter’s import. Slovakia’s imports from Belgium account for almost 1 percent of Slovakia’s total imports, while Slovakia’s exports to Belgium ranked between 1.5 and 1.7 percent during the last three years, according to the Slovak Statistics Office.

In 2011, Slovakia imported from Belgium goods and services worth €526 million, while in 2012 the imports decreased to €511 million only to increase to €555 million in 2013.

Slovakia’s exports to Belgium decreased from 2011’s €946 million to €922 million in 2012. The next year Slovakia increased its exports to €1 billion.

The trade balance was almost the same in 2011 and 2012, at €420 million and €411 million, respectively, to increase to €451 million in 2013.

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