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Panel: Slovenia Needs More Attractive Environment for FDI

Ljubljana, 25 November (STA) - Participants of Tuesday's round table on foreign direct investments (FDI) agreed that despite high economic growth in the past years the share of FDI in Slovenia was never high, and concluded that the country's business environment should be made more attractive.

According to Peter Kraljic of management consulting firm McKinsey, FDI are closely linked with economic growth. He added that Slovenia needed to improve its business environment if it wanted to attract more foreign investors.

Marjan Svetlicic of the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences agreed with him, adding that FDI will be boosted once economic growth picks up. He believes that every single investment is important for the economy.

Economy Ministry State Secretary Darja Radic told the round table that the government was drafting a programme aimed at encouraging foreign direct investments, which she believes are also important for competitiveness.

Tax breaks are one of the possibilities for attracting foreign investors to Slovenia, she said, adding that the government also supported internationalisation of the Slovenian economy and was drafting a programme for this area.

Radic assessed that there was a lack of greenfield investments in Slovenia, adding that the government should also encourage such a type of investment.

CEO of home appliance maker Gorenje Franjo Bobinac said that his company started with FDI five years ago. The current share of Gorenje's products made in Slovenia is 70%, while the rest is produced in Serbia and the Czech Republic.

He pointed out that the economic and financial crisis brought a "fierce fight for market shares". The crisis in some countries triggered protectionism, which he believes can be avoided with direct investments.

The round table, organised by the Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) and English-language paper The Slovenia Times, concluded with the awarding of the 4th annual FDI Slovenia Award.

The award for greenfield investment in 2008 went to Austrian companies Xenon Architectural Lighting and Wolford, a hosiery and lingerie manufacturer.

The companies invested more than EUR 8m and created 320 new jobs in the northeastern region of Pomurje and made an important contribution to the development of Slovenia and its economy, according to the award commission.

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