Slovenia seeks FDI in renewable energy and ICT

| January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
Ljubljana is Slovenia's capital and largest city. (Photo: Jacob Riglin, Slovenian Tourist Board)

Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city. (Photo: Jacob Riglin, Slovenian Tourist Board)

As Slovenia and Canada look to build back after COVID-19, both countries put a premium on the environment, sustainability and digital innovation. These are all areas where we can find new opportunities. COVID taught us how important it is to have business partners who are reliable, who share a compatible business culture and who subscribe to the same set of rules.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that has been in effect for three years removed 98 per cent of trade tariffs between Canada and all EU countries, including Slovenia. This agreement, along with our shared norms, form an important level playing field, which is an excellent vantage point for Slovenian-Canadian economic co-operation.
Like Canada, Slovenia is an open and export-oriented country that wishes to diversify its global trade. Also, like Canada, Slovenia is a trading nation: 82 per cent of our GDP is from exports of goods and services and 80 per cent of that is done with our closest trading partners — Germany, Italy, Austria, Croatia and France. We wish to extend our partnerships and develop closer ties with Canada, especially in high-tech, and are looking for partners in green tourism, the automotive industry, the banking sector and digitalization.
The past decade has seen a positive trend in Slovenian-Canadian business co-operation. The total value of exports from Slovenia to Canada in 2019 amounted to $145.5 million and has almost doubled over the past five years. Our top exports include pharmaceuticals, electrical machinery, nuclear reactors, optical and medical instruments and skis.
On the other side, the total value of Slovenian imports from Canada in 2019 amounted to $173.4 million, which is a nearly 100-per-cent increase compared to 2018. The top Slovenian import products are airplanes, oil and nickel, but also pharmaceuticals and electrical machines.
These numbers indicate that we have a lot of space to increase our trade and economic co-operation, something that CETA makes more viable than ever.
Slovenia appreciates the high-quality products from Canada and we have a clear picture of the main sectors where we would like to enhance our co-operation. Clean-tech is certainly high on the list, as well as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, ICT, nanotechnology, automobiles, energy, food, timber and chemicals. Slovenia and Canada have already established strong co-operation through the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI). The newly established UNESCO-backed International Research Centre on AI (IRCAI), seated in Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana, is another opportunity to enhance our ties.
Like Canada, Slovenia has well-preserved natural beauty and a culture that, barring pandemics, attracts ever more tourists, many from Canada. We wish to see more Canadians travelling to Slovenia, and encourage more Slovenians to travel to Canada. We also hope to increase the number of Canadians visiting Slovenia under the Youth Mobility Program.
We have a system in place through which we encourage Slovenian enterprises, especially SMEs, to explore new, more geographically distant overseas markets. By providing technical expertise, facilitation and financial incentives, the Slovenian Enterprise Fund and business development agency, called SPIRIT Slovenia, are valuable partners in the promotion of entrepreneurship and internationalization of Slovenian businesses abroad.
Slovenia provides a strong business-friendly environment where foreign enterprises are treated on an equal footing with domestic companies and protected by laws that are harmonized with EU legislation. Slovenia’s attractiveness lies in its strategic geographical position at the heart of Europe that offers easy access to the vibrant single European market with 450 million consumers. The main assets of the Slovenian business environment are its talented and well-educated people with high foreign language competence and the skills to perform complex and abstract tasks. We also pride ourselves on clean nature and excellent living conditions.
“Green. Creative. Smart.” is Slovenia’s motto and a nationwide approach toward encouraging and boosting foreign direct investment. Slovenia is looking for new investments in logistics, tourism, renewable energy resources and the high-tech sector.
Slovenian investments in Canada saw a 34-per-cent increase in 2019 and we have more than 20 companies in Slovenia with Canadian shareholders.
Starting a business in Slovenia is easy and cost-effective. The government introduced a program called SPOT, which is a comprehensive single-point-of-contact system of free services to support domestic and foreign investors wishing to set up shop in Slovenia. Slovenia’s financial incentives and tax relief for investments in the R&D sector might also be of interest.
A Canada-Slovenia virtual high-tech business forum that was organized in November 2020 attracted 50 Slovenian and Canadian high-tech companies specializing in everything from AI and advanced manufacturing to ICT, to mention a few. We are planning a follow-up visit by a business delegation from Slovenia once conditions allow for safe travel, hopefully in the first half of 2021.

Melita Gabric is Slovenia’s ambassador to Canada. Email or call (613) 565-5781 to reach her.

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Category: Diplomatica

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Melita Gabric is Slovenia’s ambassador to Canada. Email or call (613) 565-5781 to reach her.

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