Slovakia and Canada: Bilateral trade benefits both

| April 4, 2015 | 0 Comments
Bratislava is Slovakia’s capital and business centre.

Bratislava is Slovakia’s capital and business centre.

The Slovak Republic and Canada are close allies and partners. Despite the geographical distance, our countries have a lot in common. Our relations are built on common values and our two countries co-operate closely on many issues of mutual interest, bilaterally and multilaterally. As members of NATO and other international organizations, our co-operation in the areas of foreign and security policy, trade and investment, culture and tourism is intensive. We are also promoting people-to-people contacts and contacts between our researchers, academic communities and students.
As Slovak ambassador, I am pleased to see relations deepening. It is my priority to work towards their further development for the benefit of both countries.
Canada and Slovakia are also linked through the large community of Slovaks who call Canada home. My embassy works closely with numerous ex-patriot organizations and groups. We are happy to see that their bonds with Slovakia remain strong. Their interest in Slovakia is constantly growing, not only as the country of their ancestors, but also as a business and holiday destination.
In the area of bilateral trade, we have to stress, first of all, the fact that Canada represents the second most important export market for Slovakia in the Americas. Therefore, we are happy to see that Slovak exports to Canada have continuously grown for more than five years.
The total value of Slovak exports to Canada reached $200.2 million in 2013, marking 9-percent growth compared to the previous year. The commodity structure of Slovak exports to Canada does not exactly reflect our expectation, due to its high dependence on one product —  automobiles — which accounted for 70 percent of all exports in 2013. Slovakia also exports furniture, engines, machinery products, footwear, motor vehicle parts and accessories, sporting goods and metal structures, but these products do not exceed 4 percent of total volume.
Canadian exports to Slovakia reached $127.1 million in 2013, which is a remarkable year-over-year increase of 82 percent. According to official Slovak statistics, iron ore and concentrates accounted for more than half of all Canadian exports (55 percent), followed by valves and fittings for pipes (10.7 percent), aircraft and associated equipment (5.1 percent), medications (3.4 percent), vegetables (2.0 percent) and food products (2.0 percent).
The total volume of trade between Slovakia and Canada is growing; this is good news for all of us. To keep it sustainable, Slovak companies have to diversify the commodity structure of their exports to Canada. It is risky for us to depend on one product in exports, especially when it is in the highly competitive automotive sector. Besides working on better promotion of traditional exports such as furniture, footwear or sporting goods, we would like to increase exports of other lesser-known commodities, among them electrical machinery and equipment for industrial use and various consumer goods, as well as household appliances and equipment.
While the Slovak market is relatively small (our population is 5.5 million), it is an integral part of the EU internal market, which boasts up to 500 million consumers. Slovakia can serve as a hub for distribution of a great variety of Canadian products within the EU market, sharing the same tariff and non-tariff rules for all imports from Canada.
We must not forget to mention one new, but very important trade tool: The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. It is expected to open new opportunities to businesses, thanks to the reduction of tariffs and the streamlining of trade, procurement and investment procedures. Slovakia considers CETA to be an important new element in relations between the EU and Canada, and fully supports its quick implementation.
Simultaneously with increasing the volume of bilateral trade, we would welcome more Canadian companies as investors in various sectors of our economy, be it automotive, machinery, electrical engineering, construction, food processing, infrastructure or information technology. Many Canadian companies are active on the European market and Slovak partners can offer local expertise, assistance in logistics and transport or marketing services.
Slovakia has a strong potential in attracting a considerably higher volume of Canadian investments, thanks to its skilled workforce with acceptable operating costs and the high-quality business and investment environment, combined with political and social stability. According to the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business Report, Slovakia ranked 37th, up significantly from its 2014 position of 45th.

Andrej Droba is the ambassador of Slovakia. Reach him at (613) 749-4442.

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Andrej Droba is the ambassador of Slovakia. Reach him at (613) 749-4442.

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