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Slovenia and Bosnia Wish to Step Up Economic Cooperation

Brdo pri Kranju, 26 November (STA) - President Danilo Tuerk and the visiting chair of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency Zeljko Komsic agreed at a Slovenia-Bosnian business conference at Brdo on Thursday that economic cooperation between the two countries needed to be strengthened further in the future.

"We know that Bosnia is a sovereign country with its own economic potential," Tuerk told participants, adding that the country was an excellent partner for a joint foray into third markets.

He said that Bosnia was one of the most important trade partners of Slovenia, as trade almost reached EUR 1bn last year. A slight decline was noted this year, which the two officials ascribe to the global crisis.

Tuerk believes the necessary trust is in place between Bosnia and Slovenia, "which is a big asset that we need to know how to use".

Komsic explained that there was wide agreement at the recent regional economic forum in Sarajevo that a solution to the difficult situation needed to be found and that there was a joint wish for better international cooperation.

According to him, politicians are moreover becoming increasingly aware of the importance that investments by individuals and entrepreneurs carry the country. "The role of the state is to create conditions for undisturbed business," Komsic said.

The general manager of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) Samo Hribar Milic said that better conditions for economic cooperation would probably also be secure by abolishing the visa regime.

The chair of the Bosnian Chamber of Foreign Trade Ljubomir Klincov on the other hand highlighted a registered unemployment rate of 42% as a major problem for Bosnia at the moment. He called on Slovenian entrepreneurs to step up investments in Bosnia, mentioning the country's stable monetary system among enticing factors.

Bosnian officials explained that a total of EUR 701m in foreign investments were recorded in the country 2008, with Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Switzerland topping the investors list.

According to GZS data, goods exchange between Slovenia and Bosnia stood at EUR 937m last year, of which Slovenian exports amounted to EUR 626m. In the first eight months of this year export to Bosnia was at EUR 330.3m, while imports stood at EUR 140.1m.

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