Distant markets hold promise for exports
Slovenia is an open and export-oriented economy and exports a major driver of economic development. About two-thirds of exports are currently focused on the EU and an even larger share on Europe, but companies and export promotion stakeholders are trying to make sure Slovenian companies get a foothold farther afield.
"We support an open, export-oriented economy, especially with the goal of expanding even to more remote markets," Saša Leban, secretary for economic development at the office of the prime minister, told a recent event on the margins of the Nordic Ski World Championships in Planica.
Economy Ministry State Secretary Matevž Frangež said it was "clear that we have to be more active in opening the doors to markets where we are not present yet." He listed Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia as potential targets. Frangež said that the Economy Ministry was considering presenting Slovenia as a country of sustainable and smart innovations.
"Companies hoping to enter foreign markets must do their homework," said Rok Tomšič from the Foreign Ministry, which also handles business diplomacy, adding that the companies needed an entry strategy and an understanding of their target audience to facilitate the process of finding business partners.
Spirit, the government agency in charge of promoting investments and trade, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country's largest business association, are both active in international business, helping companies with forays into foreign markets, sending business delegations abroad and organising events. In April, for example, Spirit is taking two business delegations to the US.
Forays into foreign markets can help companies large and small. For the family metal working company ŽustAl, attending a presentation at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva opened many doors in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries, said company co-owner Tara Brus.
Ernest Žejn from the Žejn software development group noted that "if you want to succeed, you have to be persistent and annoy people", but that is not enough. Even if you are successful at selling a product, the company must understand the behind-the-scenes and know their goals, he said.
In Slovenia multiple institutions deal with internationalisation, but both Žejn and Brus noted it would be beneficial to have a platform with all available information and support in one place, which according to Žejn could also be EU-wide.