Slovakia Slovak economic growth is set to slow to 0.7 percent this year from 2 percent in 2012. Slovakia has made significant economic reforms since its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. Reforms to the taxation, healthcare, pension, and social welfare systems helped Slovakia consolidate its budget and get on track to join the EU in 2004 after a period of relative stagnation in the early and mid 1990s and to adopt the euro in January 2009. Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost entirely in foreign hands, and the government has helped facilitate a foreign investment boom with business friendly policies.
Slovakia’s economic growth exceeded expectations in 2001-08 despite a general European slowdown. Foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in the automotive and electronic sectors, fueled much of the growth until 2008. Cheap and skilled labor, low taxes, no dividend taxes, a relatively liberal labor code and a favorable geographical location are Slovakia’s main advantages for foreign investors. The economy contracted 5% in 2009 primarily as a result of smaller inflows of FDI and reduced demand for Slovakia’s exports before rebounding in 2010-11, but growth slowed in 2012 due to weakening external demand. The government of Prime Minister Robert FICO in 2012 implemented tax increases on higher-earning individuals and corporations, effectively scrapping Slovakia’s flat tax to help meet budget deficit targets of 4.9% of GDP in 2012 and 3% of GDP in 2013.