Eurozone drag crimps Slovak exports in February

Growth of Slovak exports, mainly German, French and Korean-brand cars, slowed to 3.7 percent in February from 7.6 percent in January as the eurozone debt crisis curbed demand in key partners like Germany, official data showed Tuesday.

The drop "was in line with expectations as our partners in western Europe have been slowing down," Tatra Banka analyst Boris Fojtik told AFP.

"Export growth is expected to stay weak in the coming months, or even close to zero as low domestic demand by firms and individuals will curb imports as well," he added.

Growth of imports to the eurozone state of 5.4 million tumbled to 0.2 percent in February from 6.7 percent in January, the Slovak Statistics Office added.

Last year, Slovak exports jumped by 10.7 percent after soaring 17.6 percent in 2011, while imports rose by 6.2 percent after a 17.4 percent hike the previous year.

Car factories operated by the German group Volkswagen, France's PSA Peugeot Citroen and Kia of South Korea, which pumped out a record 900,000 vehicles last year, are the mainstay of the Slovak economy.

Electronics production, primarily by South Korean company Samsung and the Taiwanese group Foxconn, has been struggling meanwhile.

The Slovakian central bank recently slashed its 2013 growth forecast to 0.7 percent, after a 2.0 percent expansion in 2012.

Slovakia joined the EU in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009.