The Slovenia Times

Making the Most of the Advantages



When it comes to assessing Slovenia as an investment destination, it has attracted some brownfield and greenfield investments, but nothing like other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. However, despite a relatively small number of FDIs and its small population of two million, the country's economy often punches above its weight on the international business arena.

An executive club

Slovenia's economic, as well as political, reforms did not come without prestigious awards: it is now a member the European Union, NATO, eurozone, and most recently OECD. Memberships that future investors can certainly take advantage of and also feel secure in their investment.
Then there is Slovenia's geostrategic position at the cross-roads of transport routes, well-developed ITC and physical infrastructure, technological networks and platforms, centres of excellence and clusters as evidence of a high-level innovation activity, that make it a location of choice for many types of businesses. Strong commercial contacts across Eastern and South-eastern Europe, a deep-sea port and the extensive transport network give easy access to some 500 million consumers in Europe.

Opportunities in crisis

The opportunities that opened up in Slovenia with the onset of economic crisis cannot be overlooked. Like all governments in the face of the crisis in 2008, Slovenia also reassessed its policies to help cope with change in the economic situation. It was almost inevitable that the government will review its own stakes in companies, meaning that some of those are now available for sale or are looking for a strategic partner. These include the sale of coatings maker Aero (33 percent); the planned sale of electronics company Fotona (70 percent); while a strategic partner is being sought to invest in Elan (a list of current companies on sale is available on

Duty-free Access

Serbia's advantages are different but still potentially lucrative. Serbia has a number of free trade agreements meaning that starting a business in Serbia is an opportunity for exporting to a market of one billion people without paying any customs duties.
Many will agree that Serbia's free trade agreement with Russia is one of the country's biggest selling points when it comes to attracting foreign investors. The Free Trade Agreement, signed in August 2000, makes Serbia particularly attractive to foreign investors in the manufacturing sector. The Agreement stipulates that goods produced in Serbia, with over 50 percent value added in the country, are considered to be of the Serbian origin. For exports to Russia, the FORM A Certificate is required as a proof of goods origin. The only tariff charged is the customs record keeping tariff, amounting to one percent.
The list of products, excluded from the Free Trade Agreement, is revised annually. In 2009, the duty-free regime was extended to the following goods: all drugs, confectionery products, apple juice, malt beer, fresh grape wines, all soaps, wool clothing, refrigerators, freezers and all refrigerating devices, washing and drying machines, wooden upholstered seats, wooden office furniture, sleeping bags, sheets, and similar goods.
Serbia is also a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) comprising of a free trade area with 29 million people. This region is also the one with the highest growth rate in Europe.
The Free Trade Agreements with Turkey, EFTA members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), Belarus, and Kazakhstan envisage mutual abolishment of customs and non-customs duties in trade between the countries. Added to this are duty-free exports to the European Union and the United States for most products and services.
Finally, with the population of 7.5 million people, Serbian market itself is among the largest in the region.

Skilled and competitive workers

There is also the matter of Serbia's labor force which, with a combination of high-quality and low costs, is one of the key factors in reaching a strong business performance.
Labor supply is yearly increased by approximately 27,000 university and college graduates and 75,000 high school graduates. Technical education is particularly strong as high school students are among the best performers at world contests in natural sciences, while Serbian engineers are well-known for their expertise.
With so many advantages on both side, the only question that remains is which one is the right one for a particular investor?

Why invest in Slovenia

  • A strategic location as a bridge between western Europe and the Balkan states, boasting strong levels of efficiency and productivity
  • A well developed transport infrastructure both on land and through the sea port at Koper to serve some of Europe's major transit routes
  • A proficient and skilled labour force boasting a high degree of IT and technological knowledge, from electronics to financial services
  • All attributes to become a location of choice of international companies for international or European headquarters, an R&D centre, or a centre for administrative/accounting functions
  • The government reforms have helped Slovenia's economy increase its competitive edge and appeal to foreign investors
  • Registering a company in Slovenia has been greatly facilitated in many ways
  • Financial incentive programme
  • Tax allowances are in place for investment in research, technology and development

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