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Slovenia Should Open Up to Investments, AmCham Panel Hears

Ljubljana, 30 March (STA) - Slovenia must open up to foreign investment and understand them as an opportunity for new jobs and economic development, not as competition, a business breakfast hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia (AmCham Slovenia) heard on Friday.

At the event in Ljubljana, AmCham Slovenia president Matej Potokar pointed to Slovenia's advantages, such as the exceptional strategic position, high quality of life and well educated labour force.

Potokar, who is Microsoft's senior director for business solutions for central and eastern Europe, stressed the need for change in tax policy, labour legislation, public procurement and public-private partnerships.

Kolektor executive sales and marketing director Primož Bešter said that the Idrija-based industrial group first makes a strategy for investments abroad and then looks for indicators which help it make a decision. Slovenia must be more open to foreign investments, according to him.

Business advisor Ervin Pfeifer meanwhile noted that there are many experts in Slovenia, but that the country lacks R&D centres to employ them. Slovenia still has many opportunities as the springboard for the Western Balkans, he added.

Hewlett-Packard Slovenija director Iztok Klančnik added that Slovenia should make sure that it remains the leading country in the region. He warned that other countries around it are developing quickly while Slovenia has obviously fallen asleep.

Slovenia is a small market, which means that it has to make a strategy for attracting foreign investors, said Klančnik, who believes that Slovenia should not be afraid of anyone, as despite its small size, it could and should attract foreigners to live, work and create here.

Thierry Villard, the boss of Kranj-based tire manufacturer Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires, praised the quality of workforce in Slovenia and downplayed the importance of labour costs for investments.

If the lowest labour costs were the only criterion for decisions on investments, the entire industry would be moved to Africa and underdeveloped Asian countries, Villard added.

He believes it is high time for Slovenia to become a country in which it is simple to do business, but is optimistic about Slovenia's long-term prospects.

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