LJUBLJANA, April 12 (Reuters) - Slovenia's central bank said on Wednesday it expects further strong export growth, the main driver of the country's economy, and lower unemployment based on favourable economic prospects in the international environment.
"The economy remains on the rise at the start of this year as economic confidence is at a high level, labour market and domestic spending are strengthening and exports increased strongly in January," the bank said in a report on Wednesday.
In January Slovenian exports rose by 13.8 percent year-on-year which was the steepest growth in 5.5 years [D:nL5N1GN2PM]. Last week the statistics office reported that exports rose by 4.6 percent year-on-year in February.
The bank said the number of workers from abroad is on the rise, as well, compensating for the emigration of Slovenian citizens who are moving mostly to wealthier European Union states.
"If such trends continue the excess supply of labour could be exhausted in the medium-term," the bank said.
The statistics office said on Monday the jobless rate in 2016 fell to 8 percent from 9 percent a year before and was the lowest in the past six years.
The bank pointed out that the rise of labour productivity was small last year and was lagging behind the increase of labour costs.
Slovenia, which narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013, returned to growth a year later and the government expects the economy to expand by 3.6 percent this year from 2.5 percent in 2016.
The country exports about 70 percent of its production, mainly to other European Union states. The main exports include cars and car parts, pharmaceuticals and household appliances. (Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)