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Hungarian PM to meet with Slovakian counterpart

Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai and his Slovakian counterpart Robert Fico will meet in the Hungarian city of Szécsény, near the border, on Thursday. Slovakia's adoption of a language law that sanctions in some cases the use of minorities' mother tongue in official processes is likely to be high on the agenda of the talks, but economic issues will be discussed as well.

In pieces published in two Slovakian dailies on Monday, Bajnai proposed agreeing to set tight deadlines for the completion of two bridges and a road connecting the countries. He also pressed for agreements on investments necessary to better connect the countries' energy networks, on strengthening cooperation between SMEs, and on making a priority developments along the border area, which has been hard hit by unemployment.

Bilateral trade between Hungary and Slovakia grew over the national average, boosted by automotive and chemical industry investments, Slovakians' growing purchasing power and SME activity, until the crisis. In H1 2009, Hungary's exports to Slovakia slipped 18% from the same period a year earlier to €1.35 billion, data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH) show. Imports from Slovakia fell 8.4% to €1.17 billion. The declines were still well under the 25% drop for Hungary's exports as a whole in and the 30% fall in imports in H1 calculated in euros.

Direct investments by Hungarian companies in Slovakia came to €2.8 billion at the end of 2007, the latest figures from the National Bank of Hungary show. FDI in Hungary by Slovakian companies reached just €37 million at the end of the period. (MTI-Econews)