The Slovenia Times

Slovenia could be a place of abundance

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You have served two mandates as the elected member of the Executive Committee of AmChams in Europe*, what is your estimate of the future trade potential between America and the EU? 

More than 60 percent of global trade happens between the US and Europe, so they are the largest trade and investment partners. In recent years, there was a strong likelihood of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which was meant to abolish trade and investment barriers, however the current administration put it on hold. In Slovenia, American companies are interested in investing in companies that develop niche technologies and products but we have to be more proactive in searching for investment partners who would also be interested in greenfield investments. This is something that AmCham Slovenia would definitely support.

When considering Slovenia's geopolitical position, how do you see Slovenia's role in transatlantic relations?

Every country says it has the best geopolitical positon but in Slovenia's case it is actually true! We are at the crossroads of the east and the west and we understand both cultures but it is something we do not promote enough. Occasionally, American companies ask why they should have their European headquarters in Slovenia. The answer is obvious and yes, we want to attract them, but they often get stuck because of high labour taxation, lengthy procedures in getting all kinds of permits and the talent pool. The AmCham Slovenia Investment Committee believes that we could be really good for high-end jobs as the green reference country. There are already some great cases, for instance the Jo┼żef Stefan Institute with their artificial intelligence lab. It is important that we know how to tell a story and sell it. If we do that correctly, the investors will be interested.

With Slovenian born Melania Trump the US First Lady, where do you see the main opportunity for Slovenia?

It can have a lot of impact or none, it is on us and not on her. We have gained some attention and she is quite popular in the US, I think we should be proud that for the first time in history, a Slovene is the First Lady of the United States. For Slovenes, in my opinion, it is really important to learn how to promote ourselves well, how to tell a good story and having a first lady in the White House is definitely an opportunity we should use.

Has Slovenia made good use of the current economic growth, especially in terms of investment?

We know that the growth is mainly due to the export companies and I am happy that the current government is really proactive in terms of attracting investors as, in the past, this was not always the case. There are still some barriers, as already mentioned, but it is really important that we make investors feel welcome. I am really satisfied that we have seen some good cases in recent years, for example the collaboration with Japan, in robotics, through Yaskawa. But I strongly believe that there is a lot more potential and I certainly hope we will make good use of it in the years to come.

Since you became the Director of AmCham Slovenia, many things have changed and you have made a lot of progress. What would you highlight as your greatest success?

There are a lot of things I am proud of but I would highlight three. First is AmCham Young, the program that we have for potential leaders, from 20 to 40 years of age, from student age to becoming a business leader. They are the ones who are our biggest inspiration and I cannot be more proud that we now have more than 1,000 people involved. The second is Partnership for Change, a program we established with the Slovenian government. It is a program of innovative collaboration between Slovenia's public administration and private sector, where we are working together through the exchange of employees, sharing best practices and solving real challenges. The third is the Giving Back to the Community project where we started working with the socially, or in some other way, disadvantaged people. We are now taking our operation to the next level as can see that it really matters to our members. It is important to leave an impact on society. At the end of the day, I am happy that our business community has really grown, there are many people who are willing to commit their time, energy and inspiration and they want Slovenia to be a place of abundance.
 

*Established in 1963, AmChams in Europe serves as the umbrella organisation for 46 American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) from 44 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia. AmChams in Europe represent the interests of more than 17,000 American and European companies employing 20 million workers and accounting for more than US $1.1 trillion in investment on both sides of the Atlantic.

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