Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Water technology, medical devices and machinery are among the product categories most in demand.

Slovakia shows potential for further development in various sectors, such as medical devices, machinery, and water supply and technology.

Growing investment in the public and private sectors is increasing buying power through improved economic well-being, and along with strong financial support from the European Union (EU), will enlarge Slovakia’s import potential substantially in the medium term. For 2016, the Slovakian government expects imports to grow by 2.6 percent. Between 2017 and 2020, the value of foreign products purchased is expected to grow by 5 percent to 7 percent.

The country is currently in need of foreign medical equipment due to high unmet demand in hospitals. Increased financial support from the state, new EU funds and requests in the private sector caused imports of medical devices to grow by 16 percent to $407 million in 2015. While major supplier countries are located in Europe, the U.S. was able to significantly improve its position from 2014 to 2015. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, exports of medical devices to Slovakia grew by 70 percent to $32 million in 2015, landing the U.S. in one of the leading among exporters of medical devices to Slovakia.

Among EU countries, Slovakia has one of the highest shares of industry in EU gross value creation. Additionally, a growing number of foreign companies in various sectors are currently establishing or expanding production units in Slovakia. As a result, the demand for durable machinery equipment and upstream products is relatively high and increasing. In 2015, imports of machinery such as pumps, industrial furnaces, lifting devices, anti-friction bearings and metalworking equipment grew by 19 percent to $5.8 billion. The volume of exports from the U.S. in the machinery sector is comparatively low, but has the potential to grow. U.S. agricultural exports to Slovakia are significant: $10 billion in 2015.

Another sector with current and future potential for exporting to Slovakia is water technology. In the next six years, Slovakia intends to invest almost $2.3 billion modernizing its water supply and distribution. The majority of this is funded by the EU and the operational program Quality of Environment, as Slovakia does not yet fulfill the EU Water Framework Directive. Many smaller municipalities have not yet built purification plants and sewage systems corresponding to EU guidelines. According to a study of the Slovakian government, one-fifth of all municipalities are still not yet connected to the public water supply and receive water from other sources.

Because of this, the Slovakian environment department has issued several requests for bids, including as a water treatment project worth $28 million. U.S. companies can directly apply, while partnering with local companies increases chances. More information can be found on the website of the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic (http://www.op-kzp.sk/obsah-aktuality/.

Though small, Slovakia has strong untapped export potential for Wisconsin companies.