Ljubljana, 21 October (STA) - PM Marjan Šarec told MPs on Monday that China was Slovenia's most important Asian trade partner and that Slovenia wanted to further boost this economic cooperation. For exports to China to increase, new market niches need to be identified for high value added products to compensate for costs of transport and competition.
Šarec discussed cooperation with China as he was challenged by a question from the opposition National Party (SNS) deputy Zmago Jelinčič during Monday's questions time with the government.
Jelinčič said that Slovenia was not included in China's Belt and Road Initiative, and asked how Slovenia, given its geo-strategic position, could make sure that it would not be brushed aside and left without projects as part of it.
The prime minister noted that Slovenia had signed an umbrella document on the initiative in November 2017 as part of the 17+1 summit between China and Central and Eastern European Countries in Budapest.
Šarec said China was Slovenia's most important trade partner in Asia, with the volume of trade increasing by 12% last year. The growth has continued in 2019, he added.
Slovenian products are present on the Chinese market, including milk, honey, canned fish, poultry, pork, wine and pharmaceuticals, he said, adding that Slovenia's exports to China could be further boosted.
This requires "new market niches to be identified for products with high added value, which would sustain the cost of transport and also of the competition in the Chinese market."
According to Šarec, Slovenia wants to boost cooperation with China in particular in transport and logistics, hi-tech, tourism, food industry, new materials, alternative sources of energy and waste and water management.
"What needs to be said is that large EU member states are not too inclined to cooperate within this initiative, but Slovenia will act in line with its interests," the prime minister told MPs.
The best thing Slovenia can to is to construct a new railway to the port of Koper to become more competitive and allow for greater transshipment. "So that the port of Koper would work at full capacity," he concluded.