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Slovenian Officials Discuss Foreign Investment in US

Washington, 09 February (STA) - PM Borut Pahor, Finance Minister Franc Krizanic and Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar met US business officials as part of a working visit to Washington on Tuesday, focusing on possibilities to encourage US investment in Slovenia.

Pahor, who is also expected to meet Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner on top of talks in the White House on Wednesday, told US business officials that Slovenia wanted to overcome the crisis and become more competitive.

He said there was keen interest in foreign investment in Slovenia, given that it is member of the EU and the eurozone, politically stable and has a developed economy.

The working breakfast featured representatives of Goodyear, Xerox, Harrah's, Moffat, Honeywell, Dorval and Government Markets, among others. U.S. Steel representatives had been announced, but were not present.

Speaking to the press after the talks, Finance Minister Krizanic said that Slovenia was the right country for US investments in the EU. It has an open and extremely export-oriented economy, a strategic position and well developed human capital.

He explained that the talks saw the Slovenian side elaborating on how Slovenia was dealing with the crisis, noting that the trade balance with the US was on the side of Slovenia and that inflation was under control.

"We have people who know how to work, adapt, who speak foreign languages. This makes us interesting for investment, which has been confirmed by those who are already investing."

According to the minister, the US side is relatively happy with the 20% corporate tax rate in Slovenia, which is favourable in EU terms.

US business representatives mostly expressed interest in the energy sector, tourism, finance, and modern communication services, Krizanic said, adding that "these are the areas where they plan to invest" and that "the visit was quite good".

He highlighted red tape as the possibly biggest obstacle. "Something will have to be done here...Their familiarity with our market is fairly modest, which is why a few additional big investments will be necessary before things start running more smoothly".

Most participants in the talks already have ideas about concrete projects, the minister however only mentioned information and communication technologies related to the modernisation of the motorway tolls system. He said the first tenders of interest to US investors would be published by the middle of this year.

"However, them winning the tenders is not guaranteed. They will have to try hard," Krizanic said, also confirming that Westinghouse, whose representatives were not present, would probably vie for the construction of a second reactor at the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant, provided that a decision for a second reactor is made.

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