Slovenian, Hungarian ministers talk coop in digitalisation, AI
In a statement for the STA, Počivalšek labelled the meeting in Hungary as "very fruitful", pointing to a number of concrete opportunities for boosting cooperation.
The minister noted that many Slovenian companies were interested in participating in upgrading the project of a test track for electric and autonomous vehicles near the town located some 30 km from Slovenia's Lendava (NE).
Počivalšek added that, as the test track was located near Slovenia and Croatia, the Hungarian officials were pointing to the need for cooperation in that field.
In the second half of the year, the government will organise a visit for interested Slovenian companies, the minister said, adding that Slovenia and Hungary were both export-oriented and connected through the car industry.
Počivalšek and Laszlo Palkovics also discussed possibilities for cooperation of Slovenian and Hungarian companies in selling their products and investing in Africa.
"Slovenia's trade with Africa as a whole amounted to EUR 575 million last year, and Hungary is around there as well. We are aware that Africa is the continent of future when it comes to trade," the Slovenian minister said.
Helping the two countries' companies enter African markets would be the national export and development banks, Slovenia's SID, and Hungary's EXIM.
Počivalšek said Slovenia should be more active in investing in Hungary and vice versa, assessing that the "Hungarians are a bit more active," pointing to the banking group OTP and the energy group Mol, which are operating on the Slovenian market.
On the other hand, Slovenian investments in Hungary are more dispersed, and the overall volume of investments is lower. The government is interested in investments by Slovenian companies in the eastern region of Porabje.
Hungary is drafting a law providing support for small-scale investments in less developed and border areas. Počivalšek thus expressed the hope that the law will encourage Slovenian investors to invest in the region populated by the Slovenian minority.
The minister does not exclude the possibility of Hungary or other countries participating in the project to construct a new railway line between the port of Koper and Divača.
Počivalšek noted that the economic cooperation between Slovenia and Hungary was "growing nicely". Last year, bilateral trade reached EUR 2.4 billion, up 8.5% compared to 2017, which makes Hungary the 6th largest trade partner to Slovenia.
"We are also proud of the steep growth in tourism, where we record a 25% rise in the number of visits and overnight stays [by Hungarians]," the minister added.