Tallinn, 06 May (STA) - An Estonian-Slovenian business forum, held as part of President Danilo Tuerk's visit to Estonia, highlighted on Friday new opportunities for stronger cooperation, especially in the area of information and communications technology (ICT).
While Tuerk and his host, counterpart Toomas Hendrik Ilves, did not address the forum as a result of Ilves's having to excuse himself, Slovenian Economy Minister Darja Radic took the opportunity to point to the similarities between the two countries in terms of their path after becoming independent.
Following a longer period of fast growth, both were hit by the crisis and are recovering now. Estonia, whose economy contracted by almost 14% in 2009, is slightly more dynamic and is expected to grow by 3.1% this year.
Praising the achievement of Estonia's economic policies, Radic moreover expressed the belief that the good political relations between Slovenia and Estonia will be a good basis for stronger economic cooperation, including in the area of foreign investments, where no steps have been taken so far.
Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Toomas Luman noted that the companies of both countries have experience with operations on big markets, while also understanding the importance of an open and export-oriented economy and having similar positions on the EU's economic policies.
Kaja Kallas, who chairs the Estonian parliamentary economy committee, pointed to Estonia's strong role in the Baltic and Northern Europe and Slovenia's in the Western Balkans. She sees opportunities in ICT where Estonia is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of the application of ICT in society.
Estonia has set up systems that for instance enable users insight into funds collected for their pensions, while it has also introduced IT solutions to schools, hospitals and public administration.
Igor Zorko of ZZI, an ICT company, said as one of the representatives of 25 Slovenian companies present at the forum that Slovenian companies from the sector see opportunities for joint forays into third markets. Small companies in both countries should join forces above all in Russia, Scandinavia as well as the Balkans.
Zorko also pointed to the fact that many e-state projects in Estonia were conceived as public-private partnerships. He claimed that private companies developing applications and leasing them to the state reduces public costs and expressed regret that such an approach was not yet developed in Slovenia.