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German Companies Keen to Invest in Logistics, Construction

Ljubljana, 04 April (STA) - German companies looking for investment in Slovenia see biggest potential in logistics, mainly because of the port of Koper, technical industries, as well as construction where they try to benefit from the industry's decline in Slovenia, according to the Slovenian-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The downside, however, is the problem of payment default and costly real estate in Slovenia, reporters heard at the chamber's press conference in Ljubljana on Wednesday.

Katja Stadler, who is responsible for legal issues and taxes, said that many German logistic companies were inquiring about the possibilities of establishing subsidiaries in Slovenia. "Most queries concern Koper," she said.

Many companies have already been founded, and many are still waiting for better conditions and transport links, including a second track on the rail line between Divača and Koper, according to Stadler.

"As it is, it still pays better for them to transport their goods to Hamburg than to Koper. This should not be so, this is the main niche that we should benefit from," the official said.

German companies are also interested in investing in technical industries, green technologies, energy efficiency, and the so-called industries of the future such as tourism, leisure, sport and corrective surgery.

The chamber has detected the biggest progress in construction. One trend is the mushrooming of companies which are hiring construction workers from Slovenia and former Yugoslavia in order to send them to Germany, which is looking for extra staff.

Meanwhile, German companies have also started working on projects in Slovenia. "They get workers from Slovenia, and then bring them along to Slovenia, while they are involved both in planning and construction."

German companies in Slovenia most often complain of the tax burden, ineffective prevention of corruption, rigid labour legislation, tax system, default on payments, labour costs and lack of transparency in public procurement procedures, the chamber's president Gertrud Rantzen said.

Stadler added that German companies had become very cautious in doing business with Slovenian businesses, asking for additional safeguards, checking on credit rating information while tending to opt for enforcement sooner.

Christof Droste, general manager of the German-owned maker of car lighting equipment Hella Saturnus Slovenija, was confident that Slovenia had a lot of potential despite the amount of bad news in the newspapers.

Calling for more positive thinking, he said that everyone should back the government at the moment, including trade unions. Even if the government's decisions will be painful, everyone needs to suffer a little, he said, adding: "Those who don't suffer now will suffer more than necessary later."

Meanwhile, Gerald Schmidt, general manager of household appliances maker BSH Hišni aparati, said that the company was satisfied with the labour force in Slovenia, which he said was highly motivated. He expects politicians to improve the conditions for doing business.

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