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Koper Still Most Suitable Port for Hungary, Ambassador Says

Ljubljana, 03 April (STA) - The port of Koper will remain the most suitable port for Hungary even after Croatia's EU accession, Hungarian Ambassador to Slovenia Istvan Szent-Ivanyi said at a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) in Ljubljana on Wednesday. The ambassador sees the automotive sector and tourism as the most important areas of economic ties.

Hungary accounts for over 10% of all the cargo transport at the Slovenian sea port as the second most important market behind Austria, according to Mitja Dujc of port operator Luka Koper.

Szent-Ivany meanwhile stressed that the most of Hungary's sea cargo transport went through Koper and that the country had no interest in changing this.

The port of Koper was chosen more than ten years ago over Italy's Trieste and Croatia's Rijeka for having cheaper fees than Trieste and better infrastructure than Rijeka, said the ambassador, who still sees Rijeka as no competition for Koper.

Investments on both sides have been low so far, Szent-Ivanyi noted, adding that interest in Hungary for investing in Slovenia was great and that many firms were waiting eagerly for the privatisation of Slovenian companies like telco Telekom Slovenije and energy company Petrol.

The ambassador said he believed that economic cooperation between the two countries could be boosted further, especially along the border, where the new Lendava office of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry should contribute greatly.

Bathroom maker Varis Lendava CEO Štefan Sobočan explained that the office was slated to open back in January, but was now expected to be opened this month.

According to Aleš Cantarutti, the head of the GZS's international relations department, Hungary is among Slovenia's most important trade partners, with trade in goods between the countries totalling at EUR 1.5bn.

Slovenia exported just over EUR 550m of goods in Hungary in 2012, down 10% from the year before, while imports grew by 5% to around EUR 1bn, Cantarutti said.

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