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Slovene exports, output up but growth seen modest

By Marja Novak LJUBLJANA, May 10 (Reuters) - Exports and industrial output in euro zone member Slovenia rose strongly in March but analysts said this year's growth would still remain modest, cautioning that full impact of the Greek debt crisis was not yet known. Exports were 15.9 percent higher than in March 2009, compared to a growth of 2.9 percent in February, the statistics office reported on Monday. Industrial output was up by 6.5 percent year-on-year versus a 1.5 percent rise in February. "This is very good news... good signs, particularly since Germany is also showing growth and we can hope the growing trend will continue," said Peter Stanovnik of the Ljubljana-based Institute of Economic Research. Slovenia exports about 60 percent of its production and Germany is its main trading partner. "However, economic growth this year will reach one percent at most because Slovenia lacks new products that would be competitive," he added. Other analysts believed Slovenia's economy could even contract again this year, after its gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 7.8 percent in 2009, mainly due to the country's dependency on exports. The government expects Slovenia's economy to expand 0.6 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2011. "The rate of the global economic recovery is higher than expected six months ago but risks remain high," said Igor Masten Ljubljana's Faculty of Economy. He said the Greek debt crisis could once again lower demand, which would slow the recovery of Slovenia's export sector. "It is possible that growth will be above the government's forecast but ... (at the same time) we cannot be sure that there will be any growth at all," Masten said. Slovenian main export products include cars, household appliances, pharmaceuticals and metal products. (Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Tony Austin) Keywords: SLOVENIA EXPORTS/ (marja.novak@reuters.com; 386-1-47-00-520; Reuters Messaging: marja.novak.reuters.com@reuters.net) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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