September 9, 2019 / 9:57 AM / 8 days ago

Slovenia's exports reach record high in July

* Exports rise 14.6% y/y in Jan-Jul

* Imports up 12% in Jan-Jul

By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Slovenian monthly exports were the largest in the country's history in July and jumped by as much as 46.3% compared to the same month last year, mainly on account of a surge in exports to non-European Union countries, the statistics office said on Monday.

It said exports in the first seven months of 2019 rose by 14.6% year-on-year while imports were up by 12%. Exports reached a record 4 billion euros in July alone.

"Switzerland was the most important trading partner of Slovenia in July 2019 in trade with non-EU member countries both at exports and imports, while the most important group of products was medical and pharmaceutical products," the office said, giving no further details.

In July exports to non-EU countries were almost three times higher than in the same month last year and represented 44% of Slovenia's total exports.

Analysts said the extremely strong export growth may be a one-off event, but added the figures support the March forecast of the government's macroeconomic institute that Slovenia's economy will expand by 3.4% this year versus 4.1% in 2018 in spite of slower growth in the second quarter.

The economy expanded by only 0.2% in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019, which was the smallest growth in over a year, partly due to weaker production growth in manufacturing, the statistics office said last month.

"The export growth is really good but the question is whether these figures are sustainable. GDP growth this year could be around 3.4% if exports continue to rise," Primoz Cencelj, senior portolio manager at investment firm Generali Investments, told Reuters.

"The biggest risks to exports and growth are global trade conflicts and a possible hard Brexit," he added.

Slovenia exports about 80% of its production, mostly to other EU states, particularly Germany, Italy, Croatia, France and Austria. Main exports include cars, car parts, pharmaceutical products and household appliances. (Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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