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Slovenia-Italy Forum Examines Ways to Boost Business Cooperation

Ljubljana, 19 May (STA) - A Slovenia-Italy forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) in Ljubljana on Thursday saw around 80 business representatives and officials, including the economy ministers of the countries looking for ways to strengthen cooperation.

Italian Economy Minister Paolo Romani said that Italy perceived Slovenia as a partner of equal importance as China or India.

He sees opportunities in green energy, biotechnology, construction and agriculture and urged a transition from words to actions.

Touching on Italy's energy problems, which are also related to the situation in Libya, Romani said he felt a little envious of Slovenia, which had decided to continue with nuclear energy.

Slovenian Economy Minister Darja Radic also highlighted the importance of Italy as Slovenia's second biggest trade partner, but noted that room remained for improvement, "including with an expansion to other parts of Italy".

Slovenia's Ambassador to Italy Iztok Mirosic agreed that Slovenia was too focused on Italy's north.

"Italy remains one of the key markets for Slovenia also in the modern globalised world. Italy is not only a neighbour, it is a friendly country," Mirosic added.

Trade between Slovenia and Italy stood at EUR 5.7bn in 2010, with Slovenia exporting EUR 2.2bn and importing EUR 3.5bn worth of goods.

Ales Cantarutti of the GZS's Competitiveness Centre noted for the STA the need for a more balanced trade, while listing energy, green technology, new materials, IT, tourism, as well as construction, mechanical engineering and the wood processing industry as target areas for cooperation.

"We know that Italy has a long tradition in the wood processing industry, that it went through a difficult period, similar to that of the Slovenian wood processing or furniture industry now," Cantarutti demonstrated an example, while announcing a similar forum in Italy this year.

Radic also highlighted the agri-food industry and high-technology industries. "It is a fact northern Italy and Slovenia have a long industrial tradition - we have knowledge, we have experience," she told the press.

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