Slovenia today is a developed country that enjoys prosperity and stability, as well as a GDP per capita substantially higher than that of the other transitioning economies of Central Europe.
Although it comprised only about one-thirteenth of Yugoslavia's total population, it was the most productive of the Yugoslav republics, accounting for one-fifth of its GDP and one-third of its exports. It thus gained independence in 1991 with an already relatively prosperous economy and strong market ties to the West.
Since that time, it has pursued diversification of its trade with the West and integration into Western and transatlantic institutions vigorously. Slovenia is a founding member of the World Trade Organization, joined CEFTA in 1996, and joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. In June 2004 it joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The euro was introduced at the beginning of 2007 and circulated alongside the tolar until 14 January 2007. Slovenia also participates in SECI (Southeast European Cooperation Initiative), as well as in the Central European Initiative, the Royaumont Process, and the Black Sea Economic Council.
Today, Slovenia is the most prosperous country of transition Europe and is well-poised to join the mainstream of modern industrial economies. It has advanced to the ranks of developed countries. It benefits from a well-educated and productive work force, and its political and economic institutions are vigorous and effective. Its per capita income is now 93% of the European Union average. Although Slovenia has taken a cautious, deliberate approach to economic management and reform, with heavy emphasis on achieving consensus before proceeding, its overall record is one of success.
The current account deficit began in 1998 (-US$147.2 million), deepened in 1999 to -$782.6 million, and improved slightly in 2000 on stronger exports to -$594.2 million. In 2007, Slovenia's economic growth reached 6.1%, annual inflation stood at 3.6% in 2007, and the debt to GDP ratio was well within Maastricht parameters. Due to its macroeconomic stability, favourable foreign debt position, and obvious interest in EU membership, Slovenia consistently receives the highest credit rating of all transition economies.
Slovenia's trade is orientated towards other EU countries, mainly Germany, Austria, Italy, and France. This is the result of a wholesale reorientation of trade toward the West and the growing markets of central and eastern Europe in the face of the collapse of its Yugoslav markets. Slovenia's economy is highly dependent on foreign trade. Trade equals about 120 % of GDP (exports and imports combined). About two-thirds of Slovenia's trade is with EU members, a primary motivation for seeking EU membership.
This high level of openness makes it extremely sensitive to economic conditions in its main trading partners and changes in its international price competitiveness. However, despite the economic slowdown in Europe in 2001-03, Slovenia maintained 3% GDP growth. Keeping labour costs in line with productivity is thus a key challenge for Slovenia's economic well-being, and Slovenian firms have responded by specializing in mid- to high-tech manufacturing. Industry and construction comprise over one-third of GDP. As in most industrial economies, services make up an increasing share of output (57.1%), notably in financial services.