Ljubljana, 03 February (STA) - The Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX) and Slovenia's Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment (JAPTI) signed on Wednesday in Ljubljana a memorandum on cooperation. APEX head Alessandro Teixeira labelled the signing a historic moment.
JAPTI boss Igor Plestenjak sees the memorandum, signed on the sidelines of a Slovenia-Brazil business conference hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), as a new framework for strengthening direct ties between the two countries, mutual help and general economic cooperation.
The two agencies have been cooperating so far above all as part of the WAIPA World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies, which is currently presided over by Teixeira. JAPTI also opened a representation office in Sao Paolo in 2007.
Teixeira said that now was the key moment for strengthening economic ties and that this can be achieved by getting to know eachother's countries and economies better.
Today's business conference was opened by GZS director general Samo Hribar Milic and Brazilian Ambassador Debora Vainer Barenboim.
According to Plestenjak, around 50 bilateral meetings between business representatives from both countries were scheduled as part of the conference, which will also continue after the official end of the event.
The Brazilian delegation, representing the world's 10th largest economy, will also visit the Koper port and household appliances maker Gorenje on Thursday.
Teixeira believes that the Koper port could become the entrance point for a substantial part of Brazilian exports to Central and Eastern Europe, as this would entail an important shortening of the export route to the key markets in this part of Europe.
APEX finds that the Koper port presents a serious alternative to the existing Brazilian entrance points, above all Antwerp and Rotterdam.
Trade between Slovenia and Brazil increased significantly between 2005 and 2007 to EUR 127.5m, but dropped after that to EUR 104.2m in 2008 and EUR 73.6m in the first nine months of 2009.
Slovenia is recording a relatively substantial trade deficit with Brazil. It stood at EUR 46.8m in 2008 and at EUR 35m in the first nine months of 2009. Slovenian companies had EUR 6.3m in direct investments in Brazil in 2008.
Head of the GZS's competitiveness centre Ales Cantarutti expressed hope that a strong Slovenian business delegation could already pay a return visit to Brazil this year. The GZS is also pushing for a visit to Brazil by the president or prime minister.
Teixeira, who noted that Brazil did not get so seriously hit by the crisis and was seeing the emergence of a stronger middle class, did not exclude the possibility that the high level visit could already happen this year.