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Slovenia-Kosovo Conference Looks for Business Opportunities

Ljubljana, 08 September (STA) - Participants of the Slovenia-Kosovo business conference, 25 representatives of Kosovo companies and around 80 representatives of Slovenian businesses, agreed in Ljubljana on Wednesday that economic cooperation between the countries was good, while there were still numerous opportunities for both sides.

The director general of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), Samo Hribar Milic, said in his opening address that the trade between Slovenia and Kosovo was still highly unbalanced, adding that the countries wanted to raise cooperation to a higher level.

"Exporting to Kosovo is not the only goal for Slovenia, but also to invest there, not only indirectly with capital, but also directly with know-how, experience and the network we have established in recent years in Europe and the world," Hribar Milic said.

According to him, Slovenia is a small market, but it has unlimited access to the EU markets and it has established numerous business ties which can also be used by Kosovo companies.

Vladimir Gasparic, the head of the Economic Diplomacy and Development Cooperation Directorate at the Foreign Ministry, noted that there were about 300 Slovenian companies on the Kosovo market. Slovenia wants a stable Kosovo, and it will remain its ally and mentor on its way to the EU, he added.

Kosovo Ambassador Anton Berisha said that Kosovo wanted to adapt its standards and procedures to those applied in the EU. "I support the idea to make the transition to a new phase of cooperation, which relates to investments and cooperation which goes beyond trade," he added.

Kosovo business representatives see the privatisation process in Kosovo, run by a special state agency, as a good opportunity for Slovenia. About 360 companies, including major ones, are to be privatised in the coming years.

They highlighted energy, food, timber and metal industry, information and communication technologies and construction as the areas where Slovenia should look for new business opportunities.

Kosovo recorded a 4.2% economic growth last year. It has the lowest tax rates in the region, a relatively young population, while foreign investments get a lot of attention and legal protection.

Slovenia imported from Kosovo EUR 2.6m worth of goods and exported there EUR 85.4m last year. In the first five months of 2010, Slovenia's exports to Kosovo amounted to EUR 33.7m, while imports from Kosovo stood at EUR 1.9m, which represented a 5.8% growth of trade year-on-year.

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