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Slovenian Diplomacy Opening Doors to Business Coop with Russia

Ljubljana, 08 November (STA) - Russia is one of the key markets for the Slovenian economy and the already good cooperation could be upgraded, also by means of diplomacy, agreed participants in Monday's seminar on development opportunities for Slovenia's economy in Russia, organised a little more than a week before President Danilo Tuerk's visit to Russia.

The president will pay a visit to the country accompanied by a strong business delegation. Apart from visiting Moscow, the delegation will also make stops at Saint Petersburg and Samara.

Russian Ambassador Doku Zavgayev highlighted the importance of the upcoming visit as he addressed the seminar, organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

He said that apart from meetings with top officials, several important agreements would be signed during Tuerk's stay, especially for boosting economic cooperation.

Slovenia and Russia have had strong business ties for years. Some 400 Slovenian companies export to the Russian market and the interest in Russia is increasing. Slovenia has a trade office in Kazan and a business club in Moscow.

Trade between the countries dropped significantly last year, mostly due to the global financial and economic crisis, GZS General Manager Samo Hribar Milic pointed out. While the countries exchanged EUR 1.2bn worth of goods in 2008, the figure stood at some EUR 730m last year.

Things are starting to look up this year, in both exports and imports. In the first half of the year, trade topped EUR 481m.

The head of the NLB bank's branch in Moscow and the president of the Moscow business club Metod Dragonja believes the drop in trade in 2009 could not be attributed solely to the crisis, but mostly to the change in the business models of Slovenia's biggest exporters (pharma companies Lek and Krka and household appliance maker Gorenje).

Due to the changed business models, the bulk of exports by major exporters was shown in transfer pricing.

Hribar Milic believes the cooperation with Russia should be upgraded with a joint foray to foreign markets. Slovenia is capable of meeting the needs of the most demanding buyers worldwide, Hribar Milic is convinced.

Russia's GDP grew by an average 7% after the breakout of a severe financial crisis in 1998. During the global economic turmoil in 2008 and 2009, the Russian economy shrank by 7.9%. The country got out of recession this year and recorded a 4% growth of GDP in the first half of 2010.

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