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LJUBLJANA, May 10 (Reuters) - Slovenian exports jumped 17.8 percent year-on-year in March, their best growth since February 2011, while March's imports rose 18.3 percent, the country's statistics office reported on Wednesday.
It also said March industrial output grew by 9.8 percent year-on-year and by 1.4 percent from February. Analysts said the trends are continuing in the second quarter of the year.
"These figures are good and show that demand on our export markets continues to increase, which I expect will persist in the second quarter as well," Igor Masten, a professor at Ljubljana's University of Economy, told Reuters.
He said, however, that demand began growing in the second half of 2016, after several years of slowing growth. That has led to a surge of investment in projects that were delayed during the slowdown.
"I expect demand to slow down in the second half of this year, so we will still have export growth but at a more moderate level," Masten said.
Analysts believe gross domestic product will grow around 3 percent, possibly as much as 3.6 percent as the government forecast in March .
The economy of Slovenia, which narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013, grew 2.5 percent in 2016, and the government expects growth of 3.2 percent next year.
The country exports about 60 percent of its output, mainly to other European Union states, with Germany and Italy being its largest trading partners. Exports include cars, car parts, pharmaceutical products and household appliances. (Reporting By Marja Novak, editing by Larry King)