The February foreign-trade figures were no surprise, with the trade-balance surplus continuing to slacken year after year, UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia analyst Ľubomír Koršňák said when commenting on the latest data released by the Statistics Office on Monday, April 9.
“The foreign-trade balance was no real surprise,” said Koršňák, as cited by the TASR newswire. “In line with market expectations, the year-on-year growth rate slowed down on both sides of the balance, chiefly as a result of the base effect. After seasonal adjustments, both exports and imports posted a moderate improvement from January, thus confirming expectations for a gradual revival of industrial growth along with the automotive industry’s resurgence.”
Strong domestic demand, chiefly for imported technologies for a new automotive plant, later joined by higher industrial orders before the start of production itself, should press imports forward for most of the year, stated the analyst.
“However, the slackening of surpluses could slow down, as it might be partly compensated by stronger exports,” said Koršňák. “These should be driven by the ongoing cyclical recovery in Europe, which the domestic [already established] automotive industry [modernisation of VW Touareg and a new model of Audi Q8] should finally start to benefit from at the beginning of the year.”
In the second half of the year, chiefly near the end of it, and into next year, trade-balance surpluses might start significantly growing again under the influence of the country’s fourth carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, transitioning from the investment stage into production.
“The Foreign-trade base in general remains favourable,” said Slovenská Sporiteľňa analyst Katarína Muchová. “The contribution of foreign-trade to the GDP growth should be even higher this year, fuelled by demand from our European partners. A new carmaker should also launch production near Nitra in late 2018, which will contribute to the growth of exports. Our estimate of Slovakia’s GDP growth this year remains at 3.9 percent.”
Slovakia’s foreign trade produced a surplus of €140.8 million in February 2018, which is a drop of €151.6 million year-on-year. Total exports amounted to €6.249 billion, up by 4.9 percent y-o-y, while total imports increased even more - by 7.9 percent - to reach €6.109 billion, the Statistics Office reported.