Ljubljana, 20 September (STA) - Slovenian companies in manufacturing have the know-how, experience and good work force, which is why they should be developed and encouraged, agreed the participants of a panel at the FDI Summit 2012 in Ljubljana on Thursday.
Michael Ayoub of International Finance Corporation (IFC), a part of the World Bank, stressed that Slovenia had several strong companies in manufacturing, which is why he believes that there is future in it.
While jobs in manufacturing are changing and Slovenia is not among the countries with cheap labour force, the sector has the possibility to become valued among its trade partners, Ayoub said.
Saša Bavec, the boss of Škofja Loka-based insulation maker Knauf Insulation, noted that Slovenia was a good choice for investment, explaining that Knauf, which entered the Slovenian market in 2006, had registered growth over the past four years.
Kanuf is however lucky that it is not too dependent on the Slovenian market and that it exports a significant amount of its products, Bavec added, pointing to the collapse of the construction sector in 2009.
Since manufacturing is not very cheap in Slovenia and companies cannot compete with prices from other countries, Knauf decided to invest in technology, which turned out to be a good move, he explained.
According to the boss of Knauf, Slovenia will have to work on improving investment environment, as several other European countries offer much better conditions for investment.
Janusz Miluch, the head of French cement maker Lafarge Cement, which has problems with environment permits, stressed that one must think positively, as problems were "in our heads" and had to be approached from different angles.
The boss of wood processing company Jelovica, Gregor Benčina, meanwhile noted that Slovenia was rich in wood and should put this into good use.
Wood industry was very strong once, but now it is slowly dying, he stressed. Benčina sees an opportunity for companies in producing intermediate products that companies like Jelovica need. This would also encourage the creation of new jobs in the sector, he added.
Benčina invited investors from countries with experience and knowledge in wood industry. "There are opportunities in Slovenia," he pointed out.
The panel dubbed "What Does Slovenia Do Well and How Can the Skills be Used for the Future?" was organised as part of the FDI Summit 2012, which is running until Friday.
The three-day conference is expected to host some 200 participants who will discuss foreign investment trends, the changing economic situation in the country and the measures Slovenia will have to take in response to the new conditions.