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Diplomats and Business Reps Discuss Ways to Boost Export

Ljubljana, 05 January (STA) - A two-day conference devoted to Slovenian business diplomacy wrapped up in Ljubljana on Tuesday with an exchange of views and ideas by business representatives and business diplomats. There was wide agreement that there is much room for improvement when it comes to increasing exports.

Samo Hribar Milic, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), which helped organise the event, reiterated that Slovenia was extremely export-oriented and that many opportunities remained unused.

He believes a joint effort of business diplomacy, the GZS and other institutions can also boost export opportunities for small and micro businesses as well as the service sector.

Ales Cantarutti of the GZS's competitiveness centre noted that Slovenian export had experienced a drop last year. It fell by 22.3% between January and September compared to the same period the year before.

Moreover, debates were held today on trade and the furthering of the Slovenian economy in the EU, the Western Balkans and third markets. Individual talks between companies and advisers started in the afternoon and will continue on Wednesday.

Vladimir Gasparic, the head of Foreign Ministry economic diplomacy and development cooperation directorate, described the event as a success.

He explained for STA that representatives of some 120 companies were in attendance, examining ways for cooperation with business diplomats.

Gasparic said that diplomatic offices and economic advisers will have to prove themselves by boosting exports and attract foreign investments. He is convinced the meeting has furnished them with clear and concrete ideas.

Gasparic explained that there are more than 8,500 exporting companies in Slovenia, 90% of which are small, medium-sized or very small companies which account for 37% of total export. He announced that special attention would be given to these companies.

He added that the network of diplomatic economic advisers would be expanded. In 2010 alone the number of advisers is expected to increase from 20 to between 30 and 35.

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