STA, 7 February 2019 - Slovenia's export growth slowed to 9.2% in 2018 from over 13% in the year before. With imports growing at 11%, the trade surplus narrowed to the lowest level on record, the Statistics Office said on Thursday.
Exports amounted to a new record EUR 30.9bn and imports to an equally record EUR 30.6bn, but the trade surplus narrowed to just EUR 0.2bn from more than EUR 0.7bn in the year before.
The entire surplus is generated in trade with non-EU countries, while the trade balance with EU members has been negative for many years.
Germany remains by far the biggest trading partner, accounting for a fifth of exports and about a sixth of imports. Italy is in second place by exports and imports.
The neighbouring Croatia is also a major trading partner and also one of the few EU sources of surplus, with exports at EUR 2.5bn and imports at EUR 1.7bn.
Austria, on the other hand, accounted for EUR 3.2bn of imports and EUR 2.4bn of exports.
Overall, just five countries - Germany, Italy, Croatia, Austria and France - account for more than half of all trade.
Slovenia's main exports were vehicles, medical and pharmaceutical products and electrical machinery.
Vehicles are also the biggest single import group, followed by oil derivatives and electrical machinery.
While the whole-year figures are positive, the trend shows come cause of concern amidst warnings that the economies of Slovenia's biggest trading partners are slowing down.
December exports thus rose by just 2% year-on-year, with exports up 6%.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), which has been raising the alarm about a looming slowdown for a while, described the figures as "predictably weak".
The chamber expects export growth rates to hover in the 3-4% range in the coming months.
"We estimate that exports of the automotive chain could even be negative year-on-year in some months given that January data for the sector were the worst in six years," the GZS's chief economist Bojan Ivanc said.
More details can be found at SURS.