Slovakia is a member of the European Union. It is also a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) which has guaranteed, since 1 January 1993, the free movement of most goods between the European countries. Multilateral and bilateral agreements with many countries.
Non Tariff Barriers
In accordance with its European Union membership since May, 1st of 2004, Slovakia applies the European Union trade policy such as antidumping or anti-subsidy measures. The European Union import regime is applied to Slovakia, especially in the sector of textile products. If Slovakia adopted the main part of the EU regulations on May, 1st of 2004, a transitional period has been defined for the country to transpose other EU rules.
The European Union has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, and having to obtain import licenses is not common. However, you should make sure that importing a particular product does not call for an import license.
There are some restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favoring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for goods entering the EU territory.
Transactions carried out within the EEA are free of duty. The Common Customs Tariff (CCT) of the European Union applies to goods originating from outside Europe. Average Customs duties are not high, 4.8% for manufactured goods for example. However, the sectors of textiles, articles of clothing (high duties and quotas) and agrifood (average duty of 17.3% and many tariff quotas, CAP) still have protective measures.
The combined nomenclature of the European Community (EC) integrates the HS nomenclature or completes it with its own sub-titles with an 8 figure code number and its own legal notes created for Community needs. From a practical point of view, it is the TARIC code (composed of 10 figures) which allows the definition of the Customs duty rate and the Community regulations applicable when importing a product from a country which does not belong to the European Union. To find out the Customs duty on a product according to its country of origin, you should consult the TARIC database.
Trade between the European Union and Slovakia consists of intra-community trade (acquisitions and deliveries), and only VAT must be paid in the country where the product is consumed. Systematic controls of goods at the intra-community borders have been done away with and moved to extra-community borders if the country is concerned, subject to the rules applicable to some sensitive goods. Nevertheless, when goods from within the community are brought into Slovakia, the exporter must fill in, at the end of the month, a Declaration of Exchange of Goods (DEB) or Intrastat Declaration. The Customs declaration (SAD) remains in force for the goods trade between Slovakia and third countries. Some importers will have to request an import license from the Ministry of the Economy. The import license is necessary especially for basic products or raw materials such as coal, electric energy, livestock and some agricultural products. A certificate of compliance with standards is also necessary for certain specific products which can be considered to be dangerous for health, individual safety or the environment.
As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
Commercial samples imported for a period of not more than 24 months are exempt from Customs duty.
Price remains an essential factor in the purchasing process of Slovak consumers. However, there is a growing need to buy good quality products. Slovak consumers are aware of advertising. It can influence them in their purchasing decisions given that they have not yet been swamped with advertising. After-sales service is also important for a company that wants to sell its products in Slovakia. Consumers do pay attention to guarantees and after-sales service.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
Economic growth is improving the Slovak standard of living, even if it is still below the European average. The Slovaks are thinking more and more about health and the environment. They are careful consumers who are wary of novelty as for example OGMs in food products. They prefer local products to foreign products.
In Slovakia, 55% of the population does its food shopping in supermarkets. Hypermarkets have increased their market share. It has risen from 8 to 24% and the share of discounters has doubled (from 14 to 28%) to the detriment of small shops. Discount stores appeared in Slovakia in 2003 and have had great success thanks to the low level of Slovak income. The principal distribution network is largely dominated by foreign groups: - The number 1 group Tesco has a turnover of 1,5 billion EUR. - Then follows Metro with a turnover of over 500 million EUR. - The Billa group with a turnover of 480 million EUR. - Carrefour successfully opened in 2000 with the first supermarket in the country. The turnover of the 10 top distribution companies increased by about 8% in 2013. In the non-food sectors, national groups continue to be of prime importance; for example, the consumer electronic goods sector is dominated by three companies: - Omnia. - Nay. - Datart.
Goods transport in Slovakia is dominated by road transport with over 200 million tons of goods transported. It is the most used means of transport as Slovakia has no access to the sea. 48 million tons of goods are transported by rail, 1.5 million tons by waterway and 400,000 by air each year.
The industrial sector represents 35% of GDP and 37.5% of the active population. The main industrial sectors are the automobile sector, transport material, chemistry, food stuffs, wood, paper and clothing. Slovak industry has traditionally been oriented towards the automobile industry. Slovakia is the country which produces the most cars per capita in the world.