Ljubljana – The Slovenian-Chinese Business Council hosted on Tuesday a debate on opportunities of international companies in Slovenia in Chinese or mixed ownership and the experience of their Slovenian managers, who said that the experience was a positive one despite certain challenges.
Žiga Vavpotič of the mobile app developer Outfit7, the president of the council that operates under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), stressed the importance of foreign investments for a small country like Slovenia.
The value of Chinese investments in Slovenia amounted to EUR 325 million, he said, noting the importance of the situation on global markets, which was affected the most by the relations with China and the US as the two largest economies.
The debate also featuring Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Chinese Ambassador Wang Shunqing, with the former assessing that China is the most important trade partner to Slovenia outside the EU.
China has been placed in the new five-year investment promotion and internationalisation programme as a priority market, he said, adding that the number of Chinese investments in Slovenia was increasing every year.
The government wants to ensure equal conditions to all companies and encourage fair competition on the Slovenian market, Počivalšek said.
Wang said that China and the EU already cooperated successfully, while he wanted to see more cooperation in climate change policies and green and circular economy.
The ambassador expressed the wish that Slovenian companies utilised to a greater extent for its global presence the Belt and Road and 17+1 initiatives, adding that both countries had to secure a fair environment for all companies in the market.
Hisense International vice-president Franjo Bobinac noted that the Chinese company continued the development of its Slovenian subsidiary. It has not only met the commitments, but has exceeded them, as revenue and the number of jobs are increasing every year.
Cosylab director Mark Pleško said that, from the aspect of culture and language, Slovenia was equal to China, while economically-speaking it is like a small region of Europe. It should be able to take advantage of this position, he added.
He noted the cultural differences between the countries, in particular in communication and performance in public-private partnerships.
Gašper Cotman of Huawei said that stability and predictability of the business environment was the key, adding that the state needed to stand for a transparent and non-discriminatory environment, as this strengthens competition.
Cotman noted that Huawei had decided to establish a regional logistics hub in Slovenia. “Huawei recognises the strategic position of the Koper port, qualified staff and services in Slovenia,” he added.
Tomi Ilijaš of Arctur noted that the company had faced many challenges in doing business with China, such as difficulties in communication and inter-cultural and language barriers, which had been overcome with time.
He added that Chinese companies perceived Slovenia as a springboard for sales in the entire Europe.