The Slovenia Times

Investors - the reward will be worth the challenge



As autumn is the high season for business meetings - local and international - the question of how to improve our business environment and make it more competitive must be asked.

The foreign economic associations are holding important meetings at this time: the September meeting of DeSlo - the German-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce; the AmCham - American Chamber of Commerce - October conference; and the annual conference of the Manager Association of Slovenia; all of whom are wishing to improve the economic conditions for their membership.

Although, upon joining the EU, Slovenia was among the most successful new members, many of the member states now have a competitive advantage over Slovenia due to two important factors: foreign direct investment and integration into the global value chains. Slovenia has attracted a much lower volume of foreign direct investment than other member states and, although exports have increased mainly in the technology sector, it is not enough.

Foreign direct investment should be an important part of the growth strategy in Slovenia. Unfortunately, the current barriers and obstacles - from high taxation and an inflexible labour market, to the lack of transparency, burdensome bureaucracy and an ineffective legal system - give potential investors the impression that Slovenia remains closed to foreign investment.
The environment in Slovenia is still hostile, not only to foreign but to all capital; it is seen as a source of exploitation of workers and their rights. Whilst, in some isolated cases, this is true and cannot be denied, it gets far more media attention than when capital brings new jobs.
The lack of privatisation further confirms that Slovenia is closed - government-owned stakes in companies, which significantly shape GDP are, in comparison with other EU countries, too large. This has had a long-term impact on the global competitiveness of Slovenia.

Privatisation must take place more quickly and as transparently as possible because this will, together with foreign direct investments, contribute to the further development of the country and society.

Fear from foreign investors is unnecessary. In Slovenia there are excellent examples of foreign-owned companies (Lek-Novartis, Knauf Insulation, BSH,...) which contribute significantly to the Slovenian territory with their socially responsible operations, stable employment and superior corporate governance. This is one of the reasons that a group of companies in foreign ownership formally established, within the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce, a section to address their needs. Its aim is to primarily look at those recommendations and directions that they would like shared with both the government and other relevant stakeholders in order to make the Slovenian business environment more competitive and attractive for both local and foreign capital.

The Slovenia Times, together with the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, foreign business associations in Slovenia, the Association of Managers of Slovenia and the foreign managers divisions of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce, are organising the annual international business conference "Foreign Direct Investment Summit Slovenia 2015" which, this year, will be held on 8 December 2015.

If you are a businessperson or a representative of the professional public and would like to contribute to the improvement of the Slovenian investment environment, we invite you to join us at the event.

We will provide interesting content for roundtable discussions and invite the Prime Minister and ministers, who are responsible for improving the competitiveness of our business environment, to share their thoughts on how they will shape a more friendly and welcoming environment for foreign investors. You will also have excellent networking opportunities and we are confident that, together, we can change the conditions to improve Slovenia's international competitiveness rankings and be among the most respected countries in the near future.

Our current 49th place in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2015 is not an achievement of which we can be proud an increase by 20 places in a few years would be realistic and then we will be able to say that Slovenia has a competitive business environment.

Welcome to the challenge!


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