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What Are the Advantages of Slovenia?

What can we offer to foreign investors and companies? What do Slovene companies expect abroad? Which markets are most attractive to the Slovenes? Who is interested in Slovenia?

On today` s AmCham Business Breakfast, now already traditionally organized by American Chamber of Commerce – AmCham Slovenia, the guest speakers presented the advantages of Slovenia and stressed that we need to open to foreign investments and should not be afraid of foreign investors or consider them as competition but as an opportunity for new workplaces and the expansion of economy and good practice.

Matej Potokar, MBA, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce – AmCham Slovenia and the General Manager for Services in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Microsoft, in his opening speech stressed the advantages of Slovenia and the qualities Slovenia has – e.g. its special geographic strategic position, high quality of life, well educated manpower. He also emphasized the need for changes as concerns the taxes, labor market, public procurement, public-private partnership as these changes would probably make a major step forward. In his opinion, the crucial question is – what can Slovenia offer today, and even more important what will Slovenia be able to offer in 2020.

Agata Jakončič, the Regional Director Balkans, Merck Sharp & Dohme, stressed the following advantages of Slovenia: good infrastructure, size, although Slovenia is small in size, it may be considered also as its advantage, quick access, good understanding of other cultures and possible flexibility in decision making. She however pointed out that we should make even better of the existing connections with the countries in the Balkans.

Primož Bešter, M.Sc., Executive Director Sales & Marketing Kolektor Group, presented his point of view, as the investor and introduced the experiences of the Slovene multinational corporation, the Kolektor Group. Namely, when they decide to invest abroad, they first make a strategy into which region they wish to invest and search for the soft indicators that help them at their final decisions. As regards Slovenia, he emphasized that it is necessary for us to be more open and thus move the bounds also in our minds.

Dr Ervin Pfeifer, Consultant for Business Economics, Measures of Rationalization, Restructuring of Business Processes and Reorganization, explained his findings; namely that we have lots of experts in Slovenia, however do not have R&D centers in which they could participate. Above all, people are not sufficiently educated and aware that the changes are part of business and necessary for progress. Therefore they are afraid of them or do not know exactly how to manage them. Slovenia still has lots of opportunities as the center and starting-point for the Balkans. In his view, we can develop business models that can be implemented also elsewhere. He also mentioned some Slovenian companies, which are already very active in the region; e.g., Telekom, Petrol, NLB, Slovenske Železnice (Railroads), Luka Koper (Port).

Iztok Klančnik, MBA, Managing Director, Hewlett-Packard Slovenia, emphasized the need for remaining the leading country in the region also as regards the informational technology. He also emphasized that other countries nearby rapidly develop and that seems that we have somehow fallen asleep in Slovenia. He noted that since the great multinational corporations at deciding where to invest first check the size of a country and its market, Slovenia should have an even better strategy made for attracting foreign investors. As a possible solution he offered the idea of establishing smaller competence centers, which would employ 100 – 200 people. The centers would develop from that perspective. »Let` s open to the world! We should not fear anyone. We are small, yet we can and we should attract foreigners to live, work and create business with us. We must overcome the bounds in our minds!«

Thierry Villard, Managing Director CSEE, Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires, emphasized the great importance of the high quality manpower in Slovenia and expressed his point of view regarding the discussion about the manpower in Slovenia being too expensive which he considers to be wrong as in this case the companies if deciding for investments merely upon the lowest labor costs, would probably move all their production to Africa, for instance. In his view a large problem lies in the fact that Slovenes do not wish to go abroad and it is therefore difficult to obtain Slovenian people who would succeed to leading positions as on the other hand it is difficult for foreign managers to come to Slovenia due to bureaucratic obstacles and overtaxed personal incomes. He also stressed the need for Slovenia to become a country with which it would be easy to make business. He concluded that he is optimistic and believes that things are going into the right direction in Slovenia, however it all takes time.

The conversation was moderated by Jaka Repanšek, one of the leading legal experts on media, internet and new technologies, who already in the beginning pointed out that Slovenia urgently needs a development strategy and focus.