Ljubljana – The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) is celebrating its 170th anniversary, having been throughout dedicated to advocating its members’ interests and business success. Labelling 2020 as a year of special challenges, it is now looking ahead to 2021 as a year of opportunities for growth and development.
It was on 12 January 1851 that the first cross-sectoral chamber of commerce in Slovenian lands was set up in Ljubljana, which happened on orders of Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph.
As Slovenia gained independence in 1991, the GZS became a national chamber in the newly-independent state, working actively towards Slovenia’s EU membership, the chamber said in a release before the anniversary.
Voluntary membership was introduced in 2006 after a new law on chambers of commerce entered into force, and in 2008 the GZS gained the status of a representative chamber of commerce, meaning it is one of the social partners in social dialogue on the part of employers.
Among its achievements, the GZS is particularly proud of those that have become a long-standing custom – the awards for outstanding achievements introduced 52 years ago and the awards for best innovations 25 years ago.
It is also proud of the Slovenia, My Country advertising campaign it commissioned in the 1980s to promote Slovenia as a tourist destination.
Slovenians embraced the campaign when independence was knocking on the country’s door as it played into their feelings of patriotism.
Turning to 2020, the GZS said it focussed on helping shape government measures to help businesses survive the coronavirus epidemic, while there were still some sectors and companies which were struggling.
This year, the chamber intends to take the opportunity “to grow, change and develop” to jointly achieve “a new development paradigm, Slovenia 5.0, which we understand as a society of sustainable development that provides for high-quality life for all citizens”.
The chamber marked the anniversary with an online festive assembly featuring representatives of chambers from various countries, including Slovakia, Czechia and Croatia, to exchange views on the current situation, measures to give the economy a fresh impetus and on future cooperation.
The event heard that chambers of commerce should work with governments. “We should not think as a critic or opponent but be a partner and look for solutions,” the GZS head Boštjan Gorjup said on the occasion.
He believes chambers of commerce should prepare companies for changed trends and habits in the wake of Covid-19, finding a silver lining in globalisation reaching its limits.