The Slovak Republic is looking to jumpstart its exports to the United Arab Emirates to $30 million over the next two years. The recent opening of the Slovak Trade Center in Dubai, Slovakia's first trade office in the Gulf, is the initial step in this direction.
Istvan Harna, minister of construction and regional development, conveyed that Slovakia is exploring ways to expand exports to the UAE, particularly in the areas of machinery, consumer goods and textiles. Tourism is also being targeted as a strategic growth area.
Harna is visiting Dubai accompanied with a 20-person delegation, composed of key businessmen and senior officials. This is the first delegation from Slovakia since the nation's new government took office in 1998, the Khaleej Times reported.
"Slovakia wants to extend economic and commercial cooperation because the UAE has a strategic location in this region as the center for trade and finance," Harna remarked. "We will be happy if UAE companies invest in our country and take part in the restructuring of the Slovak economy."
Total Slovak exports hit $7 billion in 1999, as the EU represented the largest trade partner, recording 56 percent of trade. Exports to the UAE comprised $8 million of total Slovak exports, led by steel products, textiles, machinery, shoes, electronics and consumer goods.
On the potential for expanding the Slovak business presence throughout the Gulf, Harna remarked, “We will start establishing our base in the UAE, but in the future, depending on the economic situation in other countries, we will evaluate the possibility of setting up offices there as well.”
Trade between Slovakia and Dubai has risen markedly during the past five years from $2.2 million in 1994 to $8 million last year, registering an annual growth of 16 percent, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).
The Slovak economy has been in a state of transition from a centrally controlled economy to a modern market-oriented economy. Recently, GDP growth has been slowing sharply and unemployment has been rising.
The country’s new government intends to address the economy's ills by giving priority to joining the OECD and EU, cutting government wage and infrastructure spending, expanding privatization to companies formerly considered strategic, and by encouraging foreign investment. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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