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Slovenia Needs to Use Its Position, Business Conference Agrees

Ljubljana, 07 April (STA) - Slovenia is a stable country with a highly educated and creative workforce and a very good geostrategic position, which it needs to use by attracting foreign investments, the participants of the first day of the US-Slovenia Business Bridge conference agreed on Thursday.

The well-educated workers in Slovenia are creative and speak English, US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said and added that Slovenia observes the rule of law and is much more open and predictable than other parts of the world, although Slovenians like to speak of corruption.

The ambassador noted after the conference that political relations between the US and Slovenia were already very good, while the economic dimension needed a boost. He highlighted possibilities for cooperation in IT, green technologies, nuclear energy and electronic tolling.

Opening the two-day business conference, Development and European Affairs Minister Mitja Gaspari said Slovenia needed to be more operative and ready for change - not only talking what should be done, but actually taking action.

According to Gaspari, the Slovenian government cannot do everything by itself so banks should become more active and competitive, but the country also needs better corporate management.

Slovenia lies at the heart of Europe, but should use its position better and should give more attention to training businessmen, stressed Matej Potokar, the head of Microsoft Slovenia and Microsoft Business Solutions Central and Eastern Europe.

Head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia (AmCham) Tomaz Lovse - one of the organisers, along with the US Embassy and the Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) - expects Slovenia to become one of ten most developed countries in Europe.

But he stressed that such ambitions required change. To make Slovenia more competitive and open to foreign investment, the government should decide what strategic ownership to retain and sell off the rest at a faster pace, Lovse added.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) from the US accounted for EUR 69.2m or 0.68% of the total FDI in Slovenia in 2009, putting the US in 14th place among foreign investors in the country.

A total of 75 companies with American capital are present in Slovenia, including computer giants IBM and Microsoft as well as tyre maker Goodyear and fast food chain McDonald's.

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