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Official Name: Slovak Republic

Internet Domain: .sk
International Dialing Code: +421

Table of Contents

Location and Size Credit and Collections
Government Risk Assessment
Legal System Business Climate
Interesting Facts Business Protocol
Economy Other Sources of Information
Comparative Economic Indicators

Location and Size

The Slovak Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordering Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Ukraine. Covering an area of 49,035 sq. km., it is about half the size of the state of Maine or twice the size of New Hampshire.

Government

The Slovak Republic was established on January 1, 1993 and includes 8 regions. It was formerly part of the Czechoslovak Republic established in 1918.

Branches:

  • Executive: chief of state President Ivan GASPAROVIC; head of government Prime Minister Iveta RADICOVA; and four Deputy Prime Ministers Jan FIGEL, Ivan MIKLOS, Jozef MIHAL, Rudolf CHMEL
  • Legislative: unicameral National Council including 150 seats with members elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms.
  • Judicial: Supreme Court (judges elected by the National Council); Constitutional Court (judges appointed by president from nominees approved by the National Council); Special Court (judges elected by a council of judges and appointed by the president.

The center-right government of Mrs. Radicova was forced to resign in the Fall of 2011. Leftist leadership was returned to power with the election of Robert Ficos on March 11, 2012.

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Legal System

Slovakia’s legal system is a civil law system based on Austro-Hungarian codes.

The Slovak judicial system is comprised of general courts and the Constitutional Court. General courts decide in civil and criminal matters and review the lawfulness of decisions by administrative bodies.

The country has accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction with reservations. (What does this mean?) It also accepts International Criminal Court jurisdiction.

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Five Interesting Facts About Slovakia

  1. The most famous American of Slovak descent is pop artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987).
  2. Slovak Štefan Banič (1870-1941) invented the first widely used parachute, patented in 1913.
  3. One of the most colorful characters in Slovak history is Móric Beňovský (1746-1786) a nobleman who during his short 40-year life managed to be a French colonel, Polish military commander and Austrian soldier. Above all, he managed to get himself elected as King of Madagascar by the natives in 1776.
  4. Slovakia was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 AD to 1919 AD.
  5. Slovakia is located in the exact geographic center of Europe.

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Economy

Slovakia has a mixed economic system in which there is a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. The country made significant economic reforms after its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. However, the economy contracted 5% in 2009 primarily as a result of smaller inflows of FDI and reduced demand for Slovakia's exports. The economy rebounded to 4% growth in 2010 and 3% growth in 2011.

Leading Markets (2010): Germany 20.1%, Czech Republic 14.8%, Poland 7.9%, Hungary 7.3%, France 7.2%, Austria 7.1%, Italy 5.8%

Leading Exports-commodities: machinery and electrical equipment 35.9%, vehicles 21%, base metals 11.3%, chemicals and minerals 8.1%, plastics 4.9%

Leading Suppliers (2010): Czech Republic 18.9%, Germany 18.3%, Russia 9.5%, Hungary 7.4%, Poland 5.6%, South Korea 5.1%, Austria 4.9%, Italy 4.1%

Leading Imports-commodities (2009): machinery and transport equipment 31%, mineral products 13%, vehicles 12%, base metals 9%, chemicals 8%, plastics 6%

Top Industries: metal and metal products; food and beverages; electricity, gas, coke, oil, nuclear fuel; chemicals and manmade fibers; machinery; paper and printing; earthenware and ceramics; transport vehicles; textiles; electrical and optical apparatus; rubber products

Top Agricultural Products: grains, potatoes, sugar beets, hops, fruit; pigs, cattle, poultry; forest products

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Comparative Economic Indicators – 2011

 Slovakia Austria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Ukraine
Population* (millions) 5.5 8.2 10.2 10.0 38.4 44.9
Population growth rate* (%)  0.1 0.0 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.6
Age Structure (%)
(15 to 64 years old)
71.6 67.7 70.2 68.2 71.6 70.8
Age Structure (%)
(65+ years old)
12.8 18.2 16.3 16.9 13.7 15.5
Literacy (%) 99.6 98.0 99.0 99.4 99.8 99.4
Unemployment Rate (%) 12.6 5.4 8.5 11.1 12.0 7.9
Inflation (%) 4.0 3.3 1.9 3.7 4.0 9.0
Population below poverty line (%) 21.0 6.0 na 13.9 17.0 35.0
GDP** (USD billions) (%) 126.9 351.4 272.2 195.9 765.6 327.4
GDP real growth rate (%) 3.3 3.3 1.8 1.8 3.8 4.7
GDP per capita** 23,400.0 41,700.0 25,900.0 19,600.0 20,200.0 7,200.0
Public debt (% of GDP) 44.5 72.1 39.9 76.0 56.7 44.8
Exports (USD billions) 86.6 180.7 146.7 115.6 197.1 60.7
Imports (USD billions) 85.5 183.1 143.5 107.8 217.9 72.1
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold (USD billions) 2.2 22.3 44.6 52.9 116.9 38.1
Currency Euro
(EUR)
 Euro
(EUR)
 Koruna
(CZK)
Forint
(HUF)
Zloty
(PLN)
Hryvnia
(UAH)
Exchange rates (per USD) 03/14/2012 0.8 0.8 18.7 222.9 3.1 7.9
Exchange rates (per EUR) 03/14/2012 na na 24.6 292.1 4.1 10.4
Rating in 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index*** 4.3 7.9 4.6 4.7 5.3 2.4
Rating in 2012 Index of Economic Freedom**** 67.0 70.3 69.9 67.1 64.2 46.1

* July, 2012 estimates
** PPP – Purchasing Power Parity

*** 2010 Corruption Index: 10=Very Clean; 0=Highly Corrupt
**** 2012 Index of Economic Freedom: 100-80=Free; 49.9-0-Repressed

Economic Data from CIA World Factbook

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Credit and Collections

Most business relationships are regulated by the Slovak Commercial Code and Slovak Civil Code.

The interest rate to be charged upon payment default should be specified between the supplier and buyer. If not specified, the legal interest rate is that determined by the European Central Bank plus eight percentage points.

According to American Lawyers Quarterly, the statute of limitations is 4 years for sales on open account with promissory notes, written contracts or oral agreements.

Dispute Resolution

The Slovak legal system generally enforces property and contractual rights, but decisions may take years, limiting the utility of the courts for dispute resolution. Slovak courts recognize and enforce foreign judgments, subject to the same delays.

Slovakia accepts binding international arbitration, and the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a court of arbitration for alternative dispute resolution. Slovakia is also a contracting state of the ICSID, the World Bank's Commercial Arbitration Tribunal, and is a member of the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards.

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Risk Assessment

Coface Country Rating: A3 – Changes in generally good but somewhat volatile political and economic environment can affect corporate payment behavior. A basically secure business environment can nonetheless give rise to occasional difficulties for companies. Corporate default probability is quite acceptable on average.

Coface Business Climate Rating: A2 – The political and economic situation is good. A basically stable and efficient business environment nonetheless leaves room for improvement. Corporate default probability is low on average.

Ducroire Delcredere Political Risk Rating: 1 – lowest risk
Ducroire Delcredere Commercial Risk Rating: C – high risk

Other Country Risk Ratings:

  • Fitch A+
  • Moody’s A1
  • S&P A+

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Business Climate

Market Access: Slovakia is a member of the European Union. It is also a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) which has guaranteed, since January 1, 1993, the free movement of most goods between the European countries. In addition, Slovakia has multilateral and bilateral agreements with other countries including the United States.

Economic Freedom: Slovakia’s economic freedom score is 67.0, making its economy the 51st freest in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom. Slovakia is ranked 24th out of 43 countries in the European region, and its overall score is higher than the world average. However, economic freedom peaked in 2008 and has been on a downward trend ever since. Prospects for long-term economic development have been curtailed by the government’s ineffectiveness against corruption and lack of political commitment to enhancing Slovakia’s legal framework. Government spending has been increasing, and privatization of many remaining state assets has been suspended.

Regulatory System: Foreign investors and foreign companies doing business in Slovakia have complained about the transparency of regulatory processes in several industries.

Intellectual Property Rights: Protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) falls under the jurisdiction of two agencies. The Industrial Property Office is responsible for most areas, including patents, and the Ministry of Culture is responsible for copyrights (including software). Slovakia is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Patent Organization (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Exchange Control: Foreign exchange operations in Slovakia allow easy conversion or transfer of funds associated with an investment. As a member of the OECD, Slovakia meets all of the international standards for conversion and transfer policy. Slovaks are free to trade, buy and sell foreign securities and there are very few controls on capital transactions.

Corruption: The business community considers corruption and political influence to be significant problems within the Slovak legal system. U.S. and other companies have reported to their embassies instances of multi-million dollar losses that were settled out of court because of doubts about the court system’s ability to offer a credible legal remedy.

Political Violence: There have been no reports of politically motivated damage to property, and civil disturbances are extremely rare. There has been no violence directed toward foreign-owned companies.

For more detailed information on these topics, visit the 2011 Investment Climate Statement – Slovakia, of the U.S. Department of State.

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Business Protocol in the Slovak Republic

Slovak businesspeople initially take a formal and distant approach to people in business. Be prepared for a seemingly cold reception at first. However, the younger generation involved in business are willing to dispense with protocol and use a slightly more relaxed level of formality.

First names are seldom used in business.

Business cards: It’s a good idea to have one side of your business card printed in Slovak. You should also include the length of time your firm has been in business, if more than 20 years, and any advanced university degrees you have obtained.

In general, meetings are conducted by the most senior person present, who sets the agenda, the content, and the pace. The purpose is usually to communicate information and decisions that have already been made, not to brainstorm or discuss. Employees may be called on to corroborate or clarify facts and statistics, but will not usually be asked to collaborate.

More information on Business Protocol: Kwintessential

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Sources for further information on doing business in the Slovak Republic

American Chamber of Commerce in the Slovak Republic

Doing Business in Slovakia, 2011 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies

Doing Business in Slovakia, TGC Corporate Lawyers (January 2012)

Doing Business in Slovakia, UK Trade & Investment

Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington, DC

Embassy of the United States in Bratislava, Slovakia

Official Business Register of the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic

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This information is provided by ABC-Amega Inc. Providing international receivable management and debt collection services for exporters to more than 200 countries including XXXX. For further information, contact info@abc-amega.com.

This report represents a compilation of information from a wide variety of reputable sources.

Comparative Economic Indicators: CIA World Factbook

Risk Assessment information: Coface Country Rating, Ducroire/Delcredere and Political Risk Insurance Center.

Exchange Rates: OANDA.com The Currency Site.