Slovenia - International trade

Slovenia's total trade equivalent is estimated at about 115 percent of the country's GDP, and both imports and exports are currently growing, thanks to the improved foreign demand and the rise in domestic manufacturing production. In 2000, according to the CIA World Fact-book, exports stood at US$8.9 billion and imports at US$9.9 billion. Robust exports growth has more than offset weaknesses in domestic demand. The EU is the leading market for Slovenia's trade, with an over 65 percent share of exports and almost 70 percent of imports. Slovenia's top trading partners include Germany (31 percent of exports and 21 percent of imports), Italy (14 percent of exports and 17 percent of imports), France (6 percent of exports and 11 percent of imports), and Austria (7 percent of exports and 8 percent of imports).

Apart from the EU countries, the other important market for export growth has come from Eastern European markets, especially from countries belonging to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). There has also been a continuing revival of exports to former Yugoslav neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia—which amounted to US$1.2 billion in 1999, or 14 percent of total revenues—while exports to Russia, although also growing, remain low in absolute terms.

Although Slovene exports to Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro) totaled just $85 million in 1999, they have risen quickly after the Kosovo war, reaching $92 million in the first 8 months of 2000. Although the low level of Yugoslav living standards, compounded by the poor state of the Yugoslav banking system, will present serious barriers to foreign trade, Slovene exports to that country will probably continue to expand relatively rapidly. There is likely to be strong growth in exports of consumer goods by companies such as Tobacna Tovarna (cigarettes), Gorenje (household appliances), Mura (clothes), and Droga Portoroz (teas and spices). Serbia was an important market for these companies before the break-up of Yugoslavia, and their brand names are still well known. They should also be in a good position to compete in what will definitely be an even more price-sensitive market.

Slovene exports include electrical machinery, road vehicles, chemicals and chemical products, footwear, furniture, food, cigarettes, and components and semi-finished goods. Tourism is also a major source of revenue. Exports of services have also exhibited relatively solid growth, reflecting a mixture of strong growth in transport services and other services. The expansion of the latter category has been propelled by the information technology sector, which has displayed strong growth in sales to the rest of the former Yugoslavia.

Imports include machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, fuels and lubricants, and food. The strongest growing category of imports has been that of intermediate goods , partly because the strength of export growth has spurred demands for imported components and raw materials. Rising oil prices, coupled with the weakness of the euro, have been the main reasons for the increase in imports of mineral fuels and lubricants.

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