Slovenia continues to be attractive to Austrian investors
The survey, carried out in cooperation with the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics at the end of last year, shows that 75% of Austrian entrepreneurs in Slovenia believe that the country will also be attractive for new investments this year.
"The result is good, but it is average in comparison with their assessment from a year ago. In 2018, this was the opinion of 91% of the respondents, a record-high number," Hasslacher told the press in Ljubljana on Thursday.
He added that Slovenia was attractive for Austrian investments due to its geographical position, in particular the maritime port of Koper, skilled workforce, access to south-east European markets and safety.
But according to Hasslacher, the annual survey shows that the sentiment of Austrian companies in Slovenia has deteriorated somewhat and that they are growing pessimistic.
On the one hand, Austrian companies in Slovenia are very satisfied with the quality, level of education and motivation of workforce, with access to public contracts and the tax system in the broadest sense.
"Tax burden on companies, public administration, inflexible labour legislation, default on payment and low availability of workforce meanwhile remain the critical points of the investment environment," he added.
For this reason, Hasslacher believes the Slovenian government should take measures as soon as possible and facilitate permit issuing procedures, reduce administrative barriers and enable more openness and transparency.
It should also reduce the tax burden, especially when it comes to rewarding performance, provide greater flexibility of the labour market and invest more effort in preventing corruption, he added.
The shortage of skilled workforce is an increasing problem which was detected by 63% of the respondents, up 16 percentage points compared to 2018. Around 64% of the respondents said they were looking for workers with secondary education.
Advantage Austria Ljubljana sees a solution in dual vocational education, in a combination of theoretical education and practical training or traineeship in companies.
With around EUR 3.6 billion in investments, Austria is the largest foreign investor in Slovenia, with around 1,000 Austrian subsidiaries in Slovenia employing some 20,000 people.