Slovenia needs to boost value added to spur internationalisation
"We need to do the right things and the right things need to be done the right way," said Lozar, also the CEO of waste water management company Aquasystems.
Bojan Ivanc, the chief analyst of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said that Slovenia was an industrial country and that the share of manufacturing in the country's gross value added was one of the highest in Europe and was still growing.
But despite some positive indicators, such as export, productivity and R&D investments in the past decades, Slovenia's export is still growing above all due to increase in quantity not in quality.
Ivanc believes that there is potential for internationalisation and new FDI in Slovenia in new technologies such as blockchain. He is, however, worried because the legislation is not working to realise this potential and fears Slovenia may lose it.
Slovenia has become attractive to investors due to privatisation and takeovers, however, FDI procedures still take too long, Ivanc said. He added that lack of appropriately trained staff was also a problem. All this makes Slovenia an attractive destination for small investments.
Matej Skočir of the Economy Ministry said that the share of FDI in Slovenia's GDP was among the lowest in the EU. FDI stock has been growing constantly in the past years and could reach some EUR 16 billion by the end of the year.
Skočir believes that the most likely FDI in the future will be investments by companies that have already invested in Slovenia. He also believes that municipalities should become more proactive and also become specialists for individual types of investments.
Meanwhile, Anže Burger of the Ljubljana Social Sciences Faculty pointed to potential political risks for investors. Slovenia is considered one of the safest destinations for FDI, but it also needs to be aware that even the slightest changes in risk could decrease its attraction to FDI.
The CEO of dairy Ljubljanske Mlekarne Tomaž Žnidarič shared his company's experience after it was taken over by French Lactalis group in 2013.
Ljubljanske Mlekarne has since increased milk purchases from Slovenian producers by 15%, increased the number of employees by 11% and sales by 16%. The company went from a EUR 1.2 million in loss to EUR 10 million profit and increased value added per employee by nearly 50%.
He was, however, critical of one-sided moves that harmed Slovenia's competitive edge, listing the increase in minimum wage. This, he said, would be an important factor in the group's future decisions about new investments.