EMERGING MARKET SPOTLIGHT – SLOVAK REPUBLIC

A Central European Gem Thinking Three Steps Ahead, as It Courts U.S.  Investors

By: Alexander Gordin, Fluent In Foreign Business EXCLUSIVE!

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Earlier this week I had the pleasure to attend a roundtable discussion presented by the European American Chamber of Commerce in honor of the visit to New York by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign & European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Hon. Miroslav Lajcák.  During the meeting, a number of very pertinent issues were raised and questions answered.  It quickly became apparent that despite the hardship experienced by the entire European Union, Slovakia, due to its fantastic location and a well-developed manufacturing base, was well positioned to recover quickly and expand its foreign investor base.

As one of the more attractive emerging markets in the world, Slovakia affords its investors a rare combination of EU protection, reasonable prices for inputs such as labor, real estate and raw materials, as well as super transportation network, educated labor force and strong manufacturing infrastructure.  Slovakia was one of the star countries featured last May at the Fluent In Foreign’s What LiesBeyond The Bricks Summit.

After the meeting, Fluent In Foreign Business ™ was granted an exclusive interview, during which  Minister  Lajcák eloquently laid out not only Slovakia’s investment climate and the country’s unique advantages, but also gave a glimpse into the country’s strategy to transition itself from a potent precision component manufacturing, metallurgical and automotive assembly hub to  a knowledge based economy from the largest Central European manufacturing hub.

According to Minister Lajcák, there are currently over 130 foreign investors in Slovakia. Yet, the country relentlessly continues its efforts to attract additional foreign investment. U.S. and Canada are important targets.  Many of the current investors are large automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. Thus when Fluent In Foreign asked the Minister how was the country planning to attract the next wave of investors, primarily mid-size companies from other industry sectors?, The Minister expertly summarized the key advantage of the Slovak Republic and offered a glimpse into the future.

In anticipation of Slovakia eventually ceding its low-cost labor advantage to other less developed countries, Slovakian Government is looking ahead and is actively expanding its public outreach and name recognition development outside of Europe. It is doing it through its investment agencies and goodwill ambassadors such is its world famous athletes and in particular hockey players playing in the NHL in the U.S. and Canada.

The Minister acknowledged that although Slovakia had to vigorously compete for its investment dollars, its natural advantages, Euro based currency, proven success record of welcoming foreign investment and strong international credit rating provided a sustainable edge to keep Slovakia as one of the premier investment destinations in Europe, and even the world.

According to the Minister, his country is actively courting industries ranging from pharma research, ICT, emerging technologies, tourism, eCommerce, call center and operations support.  The Minister stated that the country is offering attractive investment incentives and is currently repositioning its national education systems to be able to meet the upcoming demand by the next wave of the investors who are focused on the knowledge based sectors.

When asked whether healthcare was a priority target industry, the Minister mentioned that despite the industry not being featured as the high priority target, healthcare is an attractive industry in Slovakia, medical tourism is well developed and the industry is open for investors.

As someone who is a very keen student of multiple emerging markets, I came into the meeting with the Minister with a very favorable impression of Slovakia and its attractiveness to investors and franchisors.  Yet I had questions of its ability to compete with other countries vying for FDI and its ability to raise its profile. In his presentation and the subsequent interview, the Minister was able eliminate any doubts I may have about the country’s focus, ability to adapt and desire to attract investors from well outside of Europe.

I would like to once again sincerely thank Minister Lajcák for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak to Fluent In Foreign Business and encourage anyone seeking to enter attractive emerging market to closely look at Slovakia. To assist our readers in making informed investment decisions, below, we provide link the SARIO‘ s (Slovak Investment Agency) presentation on investing in Slovakia, as well as excerpt from Fluent In Foreign’s Fi180 Global Business Atlas Country Profile on Slovakia, featuring our proprietary Fi3™ Indices.

English: Logo of SARIO.

WHY INVEST IN SLOVAKIA?

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