The Slovak Economy
Slovakia was one of the most advanced parts of the Kingdom of Hungary. Mining, metallurgy, glass manufacturing and the food processing industry were fairly developed then. In the period between the First and the Second World Wars many armament plants were moved here from Czechia. Massive industrialization in Slovakia came in the post-war communist era. Above all heavy industry experienced explosive development. However, the fall of Communism changed the economic situation.
Although Slovakia is a small country, it is now one of the biggest producers of cars in the world, and outputs the greatest number of cars per inhabitant (more than 100 cars per thousand inhabitants) thanks to the German Volkswagen company which bought out the Bratislavské automobilové závody plant in 1989 and constructed a huge factory for the manufacture of different VW cars. Another big investment associated with automotive industry was opened in Trnava (PSA Peugeot Citroën) and in Žilina (KIA). Slovakia is also an important producer of iron and steel and commodities made of this raw material. The metallurgical giant of U.S. Steel, which bought Východoslovenské železiarne in Košice dominates the industry.
The chemical industry is also developing. It is represented by plants in Bratislava, one processing crude (Slovnaft) and the petrochemical plant of Istrochem, which produces several classes of petrol, diesel oil, synthetic substances/fibres and organic chemical products. Production of paper and pulp is traditional in Slovakia and the central Slovakia plant Mondi SCP in Ružomberok is one of the biggest in Europe. Electrical engineering is also worth mentioning (for instance, Sony near Nitra or Samsung situated near Galanta and Trnava. The topical task of the Slovak economy is to attract foreign capital and to reduce unemployment, which has exceeded 20% in some regions.
Foreign investments into the Slovak economy have increased every year and in 2008 represented more than billion euros. The most significant trend in the influx of direct foreign investments is the shift from the automotive industry to mechanical and electrical engineering. Apart from metallurgical production, mechanical engineering, chemical and paper manufacturing industries, Slovakia also trades in textile and food. Slovak textile and cotton processing plants were among the biggest in Central Europe in the 19th century and the tradition continues. Typical Slovak food products include sheep cheese (for instance Liptov cheese), beer (Topvar, Corgo?, Zlatý bažant, Steiger, Šariš) and chocolate (Figaro).
The sector of tourism and travel has a promising future in Slovakia. Its huge potential is not fully exploited yet. Construction of modern transport infrastructure, namely motorways and a rapid railway network will greatly help to develop this potential. Accession of Slovakia to the European Union means a number of new challenges and incentives for the country. The Government of the Slovak Republic prepared a document referred to as the National Plan of Development concerning industry, services, tourism, transports and human resources. Emphasis is laid on the support to small and medium enterprise; modern, environmentally friendly technologies; building of industrial parks; education and sustainable development of villages and rural area. In the near future, Slovakia plans to reach the level exceeding 70% of an average GDP per inhabitant which exists in EU member countries. Such an increase is also viable thanks to thefinancial help from the community’s structural funds.
Although Slovakia's GDP comes mainly from the tertiary (services) sector, the industrial sector also plays an important role within its economy. The main industry sectors are car manufacturing and electrical engineering. Since 2007, Slovakia has been the world's largest producer of cars per capita, with a total of 571,071 cars manufactured in the country in 2007 alone. There are currently three automobile assembly plants: Volkswagen's in Bratislava, PSA Peugeot Citroën's in Trnava and Kia Motors' Žilina Plant. From electrical engineering companies, Sony has a factory at Nitra for LCD TV manufacturing, Samsung at Galanta for computer monitors and television sets manufacturing. ESET is an IT security company from Bratislava with more than 500 employees worldwide at present. Their branch offices are in the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Argentina, Czech Republic, Singapore and Poland.
Bratislava's geographical position in Central Europe has long made Bratislava a crossroads for international trade traffic.Various ancient trade routes, such as the Amber Road and the Danube waterway, have crossed territory of present-day Bratislava. Today, Bratislava is the road, railway, waterway and airway hub.
In 2012, Slovakia produced a total of 28 393 GWh of electricity while at the same time consumed 28 786 GWh. The slightly higher level of consumption than the capacity of production (- 393 GWh) meant the country was not self-sufficient in energy sourcing. Slovakia imported electricity mainly from the Czech Republic (9 961 GWh - 73.6% of total import) and exported mainly to Hungary (10 231 GWh - 78.2% of total export). Nuclear energy accounts for 53.8% of total electricity production in Slovakia, followed by 18.1% of thermal power energy, 15.1% by hydro power energy, 2% by solar energy, 9.6% by other sources and the rest 1.4% is imported. The two nuclear power-plants in Slovakia are in Jaslovské Bohunice and Mochovce, each of them containing two operating reactors. Prior to the accession of Slovakia to the EU in 2004, the government agreed to turn-off the V1 block of Jaslovské Bohunice power-plant, built by Soviet Union in 1978. After deactivating the last of the two reactors of the V1 block in 2008, Slovakia instantly stopped being self-dependent in energy production. Currently there is another block (V2) with two active reactors in Jaslovské Bohunice. It is scheduled for decommissioning in 2025. The nuclear power production in Slovakia sometimes draws attention to Austrian green-energy activists who occasionally organize protests and block the borders between the two countries.